LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Nurses and lawmakers are hoping a three-bill package will move forward in the Michigan Legislature soon.

If passed, the Safe Care Patient Act would set nurse-to-patient ratios, demand staffing transparency from hospitals and end mandatory nurse overtime.

The bills were reintroduced to the Michigan House of Representatives on April 27.

It originally debuted in the Legislature back in 2017, but the package has never made it to a full floor vote.

The package also made a reappearance to the Legislature in 2021, too.

“Nurses work tirelessly to take care of us and they’re with us during some of the most difficult times in our lives. The very least we could do is make sure that working conditions are transparent and safe,” State Representative Carrie Rheingans said. 

Michigan has been struggling in recent years to combat a shortage of nurses, as well as poor work retention.

State Sen. Sylvia Santana said that nurses are the healthcare workers that are providing the most “direct care.”

“We want to make sure that no matter which hospital you go to throughout Michigan that there is a safe standard being followed,” Sen. Santana continued.

Not everyone agrees with the legislation though.

“We understand the reason it’s being considered clearly, but it is not resolving our situation. Nursing care is so complex, and patients are complex so it’s in my opinion short-sighted to think that you can apply a standard ratio to every patient situation in every community and every hospital because they’re not all the same,” Michigan Organization of Nurse Leaders President, Kim Meeker said. 

According to a study from the University of Michigan, nearly 40% of current nurses said they plan to leave their careers in the next year.

The study surveyed more than 9,000 state-licensed nurses:

  • 84% say they are emotionally exhausted
  • 43% report emotional abuse
  • 22% say they’ve been physically abused
  • 10% cite sexual abuse

“You shouldn’t have to worry whether or not you’re going to have enough health care staff, nurses in particular to care for you,” said Jeff Breslin with the Michigan Nurses Association.

Breslin said the main cause of discontent among nurses is the nurse-to-patient ratio. He said nursing has emotional highs that are great, but the lows are devastating.

“I have talked to a lot of my colleagues that have been physically or verbally assaulted on a semi-regular basis,” Breslin added.

Researchers also found that more than half of young nurses under the age of 25 say they may decide to quit.

Experts determined that the issues were around pre-COVID-19, but the pandemic has exacerbated problems.