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‘Safe ratios save lives:’ Ky. nurses push for change at state capitol

A group of nurses lined the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol, calling for change in their field after two long years of hospitals being overwhelmed.
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 5:36 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - A group of nurses lined the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol, calling for change in their field after two long years of hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID patients.

Their demonstration is part of a national movement, and hundreds of healthcare workers gathered in Washington D.C. on Thursday.

Patient to staff ratios are one of the issues the nurses said are plaguing their profession.

“Nurses are leaving, they’re finding other professions,” said April Combs, a registered nurse for 17 years.

They’re asking for higher pay and help at the federal level.

“There has to be protection for the patients at a federal level that says you have to have this many nurses to this many patients to be safe,” nurse Labriska Humphrey said.

Signs the nurses were holding read “punish violence.”

“I was assaulted a couple years ago at work and basically if you press charges, they usually don’t show up. Nothing’s usually done about it,” Combs said.

In December, Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency because of the nursing shortage in the state. He and others said a lot more people need to go into the profession to care for all of Kentucky’s patients.

“Allowing more into the schools is not the issue. You have strong, well-educated nurses with master’s and bachelor’s degrees who are the ones who are going to teach these new nurses,” Humphrey said.

Demonstrators said those senior nurses are getting hurt on the job.

“When you go to turn a patient sometimes it takes four people and we don’t have that some nights,” Combs said.

They said mistakes happen.

“To pull out a medicine that sounds alike and looks alike, another one by accident because you’re having such a stressful day too, many patients, people, things and then be charged with a felony and go to prison. That’s terrible,” Combs said.

They said if they had better staffing and workplace safety procedures, they would occur less frequently.

“Nurses have been fighting this fight for 30 plus years,” Humphrey said.

This group said they fight because they love what they do and are asking for tools to give the proper care.

Participants in Thursday’s marches nationwide said they want the federal government to pass the Safe Staffing Act, as well as the Workplace Violence Act.

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