Nurses took to social media this week to denounce Republican state Sen. Maureen Walsh of Washington after she said nurses “probably play cards” for a considerable amount of the day.
Maureen Walsh (R) made the controversial comments while discussing a bill on the state Senate floor that would require uninterrupted meal and rest breaks for nurses, The Spokane Spokesman-Review reported.
Walsh argued in favor of an amendment, which was ultimately adopted, that would exclude smaller, rural hospitals from the requirement.
“I understand … making sure the we have ‘rest breaks’ and things like that, but I also understand that we need to care for patients first and foremost,” Walsh said.
“I would submit to you that those (small hospital) nurses probably do get breaks,” she continued. “They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.”
Trust me, nurses haven’t earned the title “most trusted profession” for seventeen years running by “playing cards” on our shifts. WA Sen. Maureen Walsh should be ashamed to use #nurses to score cheap political points like this. #1U #nurseslife pic.twitter.com/ucm89ezpDj
— Bonnie Castillo (@NNUBonnie) April 19, 2019
The Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA), which stood opposed the amendment, denounced Walsh’s comments.
WSNA called Walsh’s accusations “incredibly disrespectful and patronizing.” The group said that working unplanned overtime can lead to a lower quality of care, higher burnout rates, decreased patient satisfaction and increased errors.
“No, Senator, nurses are not sitting around playing cards. They are taking care of your neighbors, your family, your community,” WSNA said. “And they do read the research: mandatory overtime is bad for patient care and it’s bad for your rural hospitals. With all due respect, Sen. Walsh: perhaps it’s time for you to put down the cards and pick up the literature.”
Walsh’s comments sparked a wave of social media responses from nurses and medical professionals.
“Dear #maureenwalsh, Representative from Washington State, Thank you of alerting me to a group that even I am not stupid enough to piss off. Ever. ps. My mom, Maggie Griffin, worked in a hospital for decades,” wrote comedian Kathy Griffin.
Dear #maureenwalsh, Representative from Washington State,
Thank you of alerting me to a group that even I am not stupid enough to piss off. Ever. ps. My mom, Maggie Griffin, worked in a hospital for decades. #NursesDeserveaBreak #nurses pic.twitter.com/ZcGarPTZzp
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) April 20, 2019
“Senator Maureen Walsh… here’s a picture of me ‘playing cards,’” one nurse wrote. “I was scrubbed in a 6 hour open heart surgery a couple days ago. No breaks, no bathroom break… and definitely no game of gin rummy.”
Senator Maureen Walsh… here’s a picture of me “playing cards”
— Christy Silva Taylor (@Chrisfabs) April 19, 2019
— Kaitlyn RN💉 (@KWolf523) April 19, 2019
Might need to finish our game of Uno before we attend to this…. Senator Maureen Walsh… how did you even get elected? pic.twitter.com/hffqyt16pX
— Becky Bachelor Shook (@bbach79) April 19, 2019
Nurses at the nurses station when Senator Maureen Walsh shows up pic.twitter.com/M8dJsc31Xg
— Michaela 🦄🍕 (@vacuumbiscuits) April 19, 2019
Senator Maureen Walsh – Us nurses don’t play games. We also don’t eat, drink, or pee for 12 hours at a time, because we are too busy saving lives!
#MaureenWalsh #nursesdontplaycards pic.twitter.com/1if8usITHp
— Shelley (@ShelleyLBI) April 20, 2019
The Hill reports:
The bill ultimately passed in the state Senate with the amendment excluding small hospitals, The Spokesman-Review reported. The legislation previously passed in the state House without the change.
Walsh also proposed an amendment that would ban licensed practical or registered nurses from working more than eight hours in a 24-hour period in a health care facility, the newspaper noted.
“Well, if we have an issue with nurses getting tired, let’s quit letting them do 12 hour shifts,” she said. Nurses want the longer shifts “but then they come back and start talking out both sides of their mouth and telling us how tired they are.”