A Washington State Senator Said Some Nurses Spent Too Much Time Playing Cards. Then Nurses Replied.

“Incredibly disrespectful and patronizing.”

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For years, nurses in Washington state have lobbied for uninterrupted breaks during work shifts and protections for overtime. But as state lawmakers debated a bill that would do just that, one Republican state senator asserted that some nurses could spend their time more productively. 

State Sen. Maureen Walsh called for an amendment to the legislation to expand breaks for nurses that would exclude small hospitals. Her reasoning? “I would submit to you that those nurses probably do get breaks,” she said on the state Senate floor. “They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.” The state Senate approved the amendment but the bill not been finalized. 

It didn’t take long for nurses to strike back. In a blog post, the Washington State Nurses Association denounced Walsh’s remarks as “incredibly disrespectful and patronizing,” arguing there was “zero logic” to giving only some nurses protections but not all. Mathew Keller, the organization’s director of nursing practice, noted in the post that it was already difficult to recruit nurses to rural hospitals, so excluding them from getting covered by the bill “would just make it worse.”

“No, Senator, nurses are not sitting around playing cards,” he wrote. “They are taking care of your neighbors, your family, your community.” And many took to Twitter to show what a nurse’s life is really like and slam the senator’s remarks.  

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