North Shore Health and other Minnesota hospitals oppose nurse staffing bill
WTIP file photo

North Shore Health and other Minnesota hospitals oppose nurse staffing bill

The legislative session is set to conclude May 22 at the Capitol in St. Paul.

As the session nears a conclusion, a piece of legislation focused on healthcare is stirring concern from hospital executives in Grand Marais, Duluth, and nearly every corner of the state.

The legislation in question is known as the ‘Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act.’ The bill would require every hospital in Minnesota, including North Shore Health, to form committees of administrators, nurses and other caregivers to set nurse staffing levels that will prevent worker burnout and preserve patient care and safety, according to the proposed legislation.

North Shore Health Hospital Administrator Kimber Wraalstad said that while the local healthcare facility supports the nursing staff, there is language in the legislation that is concerning.

“There are a couple pieces in there that are very difficult and very alarming, one of which allows nurses to refuse a patient assignment,” she said during a recent WTIP interview. “And in a small rural community, I can’t even begin to understand how that works. That a patient comes into the emergency room and somebody says, ‘Nope, I’m not going take care of you.’ That just takes my breath away, to even think that that’s an acceptable option.”

North Shore Health is not alone. In fact, numerous Minnesota hospitals strongly oppose the legislation. A letter signed by leaders at nearly every hospital in the state, including North Shore Health, was sent to legislators last week, explaining some of the concerns they have about the bill. Wraalstad said she also called and emailed Sen. Grant Hauschild to express her concerns.

If approved, Wraalstad said the consequences to rural healthcare in Minnesota could be swift and severe.

“This could be the beginning of the end of nonprofit healthcare,” she said.

Listen to the audio below to hear the full interview with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs and North Shore Health Hospital Administrator Kimber Wraalstad.