Updated: May 24
Minnesota State Senator Erin Murphy (DFL) speaks at a press conference with the Minnesota Nurses Association over Mayo Clinic's threats to pull funding from the state if the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act is passed. (Elijah Todd-Walden/BLCK Press)
The Minnesota Nurses Association, Mayo Clinic nurses, and legislators spoke out Monday against Mayo Clinic threatening to pull more than a billion dollars in state investments if the Minnesota legislature passes the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act in its current form.
The nurses and the chief authors of the Bedside Act are saying Mayo Clinic’s threats amount to blackmail.
“It is completely unethical for Mayo, a nonprofit corporation, to attempt to override democracy and disrupt the legislative process at the last minute with what are essentially blackmail tactics,” MNA chair of governmental affairs commission Becky Nelson said.
The Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act is aimed at limiting the amount of patients a nurse is assigned by putting more nurses on hospital staffing committees. It also aims to lower the high turnover rates for nurses in the state.
A study by the Minnesota Nurses Association noted that while Minnesota has more nurses now than ever before in state history, half of all nurses are considering leaving the occupation. Last year more than 2,000 nurses left the field. Many of those leaving cite staffing issues.
According to Nelson, hundreds of nurses submitted complaints about unsafe workplace practices, including assigning beds to patients without enough nurses to care for them.
“Mayo should be part of the solution and not try to undermine our bill,” Rep. Sandra (DFL)Feist said. “We worked with them extensively, and all of a sudden we were very surprised to hear their demands as part of the eleventh hour, saying they wanted to be fully exempt from our bill.”
According to Rep. Feist, the legislature, the MNA and Mayo worked together to create legislation to retain nursing staff and improve workplace conditions. Then the Mayo Clinic pulled out of the agreement after creating a list of exemptions that would, according to Rep. Feist, make nearly all hospitals in the state exempt from the legislation.
Since Mayo released its statement on Wednesday, the co-author of the bill in the Senate, Sen. Carla Nelson (R), has rescinded her support for the bill.
The Minnesota Senate and House already passed the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act, and are going through the conciliatory committee process before signing it into law.