A viral video of Washington State Sen. Maureen Walsh debating legislation and implying nurses get breaks and spent a considerable amount of time playing cards has sparked outrage from nurses around the country and right here at East Tennessee.
Walsh was debating a measure that aims to give nurses uninterrupted meal and rest breaks during their shift. Walsh has apologized for the video, said she sincerely regrets making it and attributed the exhaustion of the session to make them.
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More than 500,000 people signed a petition to have Sen. Walsh shadow a nurse for a 12-hour shift and many healthcare professionals around East Tennessee chimed in on social media.
Kim Meyers, an RN, wrote in part: “this statement was very offensive and she needs to walk a mile in our shoes.”
Teresa Silvers, who said she worked as a CNA for more than 30 years and “has never seen anyone playing cards or anything else for that matter.”
Kevin Givens said he’s been a nurse for more than 19 years and “during most shifts, he doesn’t eat lunch in one sitting.”
Rebekah Richardson, a charge nurse on the trauma surgical intensive care floor of UT Medical Center shared some of what a typical day for a nurse is like.
It’s a tough job, but Richardson called it by name.
“It’s a privilege to be able to take care of people on the worst day of their day and their family member’s worst day,” she said.
On her floor, nurses are assigned two patients each. Richardson still calls it a non-stop job and said “depending on the day, you don’t always have lunch breaks. We always have offered lunch breaks, but a lot of times people will choose to work really hard and save their patients.”
While it’s feasible for a nurse to sometimes get a break, Richardson said many times spare time is spent researching something for their patient or trying to figure out what’s going on, looking at labs or finding a doctor, even spending extra time bedside.