Assemblyman Weisenberg Celebrates National Nurses Week

May 1, 2012
National Nurses Week gives us an opportunity to honor nurses for all that they do to improve and maintain the health and well being of our families. The commemorative week begins May 6 and concludes May 12, Florence Nightingaleís birthday.

Florence Nightingale could quite possibly be the most celebrated nurse across the globe. A pioneer of nursing, she reformed hospital sanitation methods and paved the way to modern nursing. [1]

My wife, Ellen, is a retired registered nurse, so I have seen firsthand how challenging the nursing profession can be. Often a thankless position, nursing is vital to the health care field. Whether itís a scraped knee at school, an emergency room visit or a simple trip to the doctor, nurses are there every step of the way.

Along with giving nurses the recognition they deserve, National Nurses Week highlights ways that we can help nurses. When a health care facility is understaffed, itís more difficult for a nurse to provide quality care. In an effort to avoid that strain on nurses and improve patient care, I sponsored the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. The legislation establishes minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in all health care facilities in New York (A.921). This would create an opportunity for more nursing jobs and would allow better patient care and as a result, less medical errors.

Additionally, Iím sponsoring the Safe Patient Handling Act (A.1370-B). This legislation would require all health care facilities to use up-to-date technology when it comes to moving immobile patients. The proposed law would greatly reduce the number of injuries, slips and falls that sometimes occur when a patient is handled by a nurse or other medical staffer, giving nurses the safe working environment they deserve.

This legislation builds on my commitment to improving working conditions for nurses. Previously, I sponsored legislation that became law that makes it a class D felony to violently assault a nurse (Ch. 318 of 2010). This law, with its severe consequences, is designed to discourage people from physically attacking a nurse. It helps ensure perpetrators are held accountable for their actions and creates a safer, more secure work environment for nurses.

In the future, Iíll continue to work to ensure nursesí needs are met.