State senator sparks backlash saying nurses ‘probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day’

(Video screenshot)

During a discussion on the Washington state Senate floor this week about a bill to mandate uninterrupted meal/rest breaks and overtime protection for nurses, one legislator complained that small hospital nurses don’t need uninterrupted breaks because all they do anyway is play cards all day.

State Sen. Maureen Walsh, a purported Republican who just happens to be in favor of gay marriage, issued the widely panned remarks while trying to argue in favor of an amendment to SHB 1155 that would exempt small “critical access hospitals” that serve rural communities.

Because small “critical access hospitals,” which remain open 24/7, are the only source of medical care available for rural patients, requiring full breaks for their safes would be unsafe, she argued.

“I understand helping with employees and making sure we have rest breaks and things like that,” she said. “But I also understand that we need to care for patients first and foremost.”

“And by putting these kinds of mandates on a critical access hospital that literally serves a handful of individuals, I would submit to you, those nurses do probably get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day, but the reality is this bill does not apply to critical access hospitals.”


While Walsh’s heart may have been in the right place, what with her concern for rural patients, Washington state’s estimated 68,657 registered nurses, as of 2016, and America’s estimated 2.86 million nurses, as of 2016, were not trying to hear any excuses or rationalizations.

“No, Senator, nurses are not sitting around playing cards. They are taking care of your neighbors, your family, your community,” the Washington State Nurses Association said in a statement, adding that her comments were “incredibly disrespectful and patronizing.”

National Nurses United, the largest organization of registered nurses in America, has also weighed in.

“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,” Bonnie Castillo, the group’s executive director, tweeted.

What appears to be literally thousands of additional nurses have responded as well:

There’s some irony to what Walsh had said. She essentially impugned the character of small hospital nurses, correct? Yet according to 2018 polling data from Gallup, nurses, in general, are considered to be among the most trusted professionals in terms of “honesty and ethical standards.”

An 84 percent majority of Americans place a “very high/high” degree of trust in nurses. Conversely, only an 8 percent minority of Americans place as much trust in politicians such as Walsh.


(Gallup screenshot)


Hmm …

During her widely panned speech on the Washington state Senate floor this week, Walsh also slammed nurses for “talking out both sides of their mouth.”

She issued the equally offensive remarks while speaking out in favor of yet another amendment that would reportedly prohibit all nurses in the state from working more than eight hours per day.

“Well, if we have an issue with nurses getting tired, let’s quit letting them do 12-hour shifts, let’s make them do 8-hour shifts,” she said. “12 hours, I know they want it but, then they come back and start talking out of both sides of their mouth and telling us how tired they are.”


This too hasn’t been well-received by the nursing community:



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