(WFLA) – A Washington lawmaker is under fire for suggesting that nurses “probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day,” The Spokesman-Review reported.
The Washington State Senate debated SHB 1155 Tuesday, a bill that would require uninterrupted meal and rest periods for certain healthcare workers.
According to the newspaper, Republican State Sen. Maureen Walsh argued that such breaks would make it difficult for rural hospitals to stay open.
“By putting these types of mandates on a critical access hospital that literally serves a handful of individuals, I would submit to you those nurses probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day,” Walsh said as she argued in support of an amendment to exclude smaller, rural facilities from the law.
“I understand helping with employees and making sure that we have rest breaks and things like that. But I also understand that we need to care for patients first and foremost,” she continued.
In a post on their website, The Washington State Nurses Association called Walsh’s remarks “incredibly disrespectful and patronizing.”
“No, Senator, nurses are not sitting around playing cards. They are taking care of your neighbors, your family, your community,” said Mathew Keller, WSNA’s director of nursing practice and health policy. The site later crashed.
Walsh had also proposed an amendment to the bill that would bar nurses from working for more than eight hours.
“Well, if we have an issue with nurses getting tired, let’s quit letting them do 12-hour shifts, let’s let them do 8-hour shifts. Like most standard shifts are,” Walsh said on Tuesday. “Twelve hours, I know they want it, but then they come back and they start talking out of both sides of the mouth and telling us how tired they are.”
Walsh voted against the bill, which was passed Tuesday with the two amendments included.