This past summer, a group of nurses in Pennsylvania created the nonprofit Nurses of Pennsylvania with the main goal to be to focus on the safety and care of patients in health care.

According to a statement issued in September, Nurses of Pennsylvania is a group “of, by, and for nurses focused on improving the bedside care nurses provide. PA nurses work in cities and small towns, at large hospitals, in nursing homes, and more—tied together by our commitment to our patients, our families, and our communities. United for quality care, Nurses of Pennsylvania is focused on leading the state to a healthcare system that gives nurses a seat at the decision-making table and puts patients first.”

As stated on their website, more than 10,000 nurses have joined—either online or in-person—since the group launched. Initially funded by union nurses in SEIU HCPA, the Nurses of Pennsylvania is managed by a volunteer board of nurses and advocates in the health care field.

Under the heading “Why Nurses,” the group states: “Nurses are the single biggest group of people in the healthcare system. We spend the most time with our patients, and are the people who they see and interact with the most. We provide most of the care that patients receive, and our priority is always our patients’ well-being first, money second. We are the most respected profession in American for the last 15 years in a row, and we live in every county in the state. If anyone has the power and the motivation to fix healthcare in this country, it is nurses together, and if we can do it in Pennsylvania then we can do it anywhere.”

The nonprofit has already released a report, “Breaking Point: Pennsylvania’s Patient Care Crisis,” the results of which are based on a survey of 1,000 nurses located throughout the state of Pennsylvania. The results found that while Pennsylvania is not currently experiencing a nursing shortage, staffing decisions made by individual facilities and the ability to retain qualified nurses have fueled a crisis in patient care. An overwhelming 94% of nurses reported that their facility does not have enough nursing staff and 87% reported that staffing levels affecting patient care are getting worse.

“We spend the most time with patients, and we’re the people patients and their families rely on the most,” Jake Reese, a nurse in Scranton, PA as well as a Nurses of Pennsylvania board member, said in a statement. “As nurses, we take pride in buckling down and figuring out solutions at warp speed, but there is only so far any one of us can stretch. Giant corporations and multi-billion-dollar hospital systems are making decisions about care and care delivery farther and farther away from the bedside. This has to stop. We’re playing with first and we cannot stand by any longer. As Nurses of Pennsylvania, we’re speaking out and sharing our stories like never before.”

For more information about the Nurses of Pennsylvania, visit www.nursesofpa.org.

Michele Wojciechowski

Michele Wojciechowski is an award-winning writer and author of the humor book Next Time I Move, They’ll Carry Me Out in a Box.

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