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U.S. Labor Secretary Walsh Hears Nurses ‘Discuss Experiences Amid Pandemic, Concerns About Staffing, Job Quality’ During National Nurses Week

Published Wednesday, May 11, 2022
by USDOL News
U.S. Labor Secretary Walsh Hears Nurses ‘Discuss Experiences Amid Pandemic, Concerns About Staffing, Job Quality’ During National Nurses Week

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – As the Nation observes National Nurses Week, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh met with a group of Nursing Professionals from around the country to listen to and discuss their bedside experiences with patients during the Coronavirus Pandemic, as well as their concerns regarding Health Care Industry staffing challenges and the importance of quality jobs in retaining and recruiting Workers.

Secretary Walsh and Department Leaders were joined by representatives of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), National Nurses United (NNU) and the Service Employees Industrial Union (SEIU).

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also took part.

“Staffing challenges existed before the pandemic, but the hardships the Nation’s Nursing Professionals overcame for more than two years are unprecedented,” Walsh said.

“Day in, day out, these people put their patients and their communities first, and sometimes at great personal risk.  The Department of Labor is committed to shoring up this workforce at both ends - by attracting more Workers to fill the pipeline of new Nurses and promoting job quality to keep Nurses at work,” the Labor Secretary said.

In their conversations with Walsh and leaders from both agencies, the Nurses shared moving perspectives on the challenges of caring for COVID-19 patients, ranging from working despite shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at the height of the pandemic to facing seemingly endless hours of overtime.

The Nurses also described trends in long-term staffing patterns in the Health Care Industry that have contributed to today’s staffing challenges.

Other areas they discussed commonly include: The need for adequate staffing and real time off, both for Nurses and patients’ safety; The importance of safety and health protocols to protect Health Care Workers; Bottlenecks in training Nurses slowing the pipeline; and The power of Unions and how Workers can be partners in addressing each of these challenges.

Also on hand for the event were representatives of the Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration, the Women’s Bureau, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Wage and Hour Division.

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, leaders from the Health Resources and Services Administration, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also attended.

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