What do you think? –Washington Senator Says Nurses ‘Play Cards’ for ‘Considerable Amount of the Day’

No doubt you've heard the news and seen the coverage about the Washington state senator suffering from a severe case of foot in mouth disease. In case you missed it, here's a recap:

Senator Maureen Walsh was arguing in support of an amendment that would exempt critical access hospitals, in rural areas, and hospitals with less than 25 beds from a bill that would provide nurses with uninterrupted meal and rest periods.

During a debate of the state senate floor she said (and I quote), "By putting these types of mandates on a critical access hospital that literally serves a handful of individuals, I would submit to you those nurses probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day."

Responses to her comments were swift and assertive.
The Washington State Nurses Association called Walsh's remarks "demeaning" and said there is "zero logic" in covering nurses in some hospitals, "while leaving others without any protections."
"No, Senator, nurses are not sitting around playing cards. They are taking care of your neighbors, your family, your community," Mathew Keller, WSNA's director of nursing practice and health policy, said in a post on the union's website.
Senator Walsh responded to the backlash, asserting that she has the "greatest respect for nurses" and that her mother was a registered nurse for many years. She has since walked back her statement.
The nurse community responded with their own response. A change.org petition for Senator Walsh to shadow a nurse for a 12 hour shift has over 770,000 signatures. You can add your name here.
This isn't the first time (and it won't be the last time) the nursing profession has been demeaned and ridiculed --remember Joy Behar stating that only doctors use stethoscopes?! But this one took it a step further perhaps because it belittled the nursing profession in a way that we have not seen before.
When we are facing staffing shortages, violence in the workplace and burnout, the last thing we need is an elected official stating we play cards all day. But here’s the thing about publicly offending a fiercely loyal and passionate community: You tend to get a lot of backlash.
Your turn. Share your thoughts and feelings about Senator Walsh's comments (but only after you've wrapped up your poker game).

 

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24 COMMENTS

  1. I can remember when the floors were better staffed
    and work was far less stressful. It was when the LPN could work in acute care . This is the result of to many chiefs and not enough Indians! Oh well
    got to get ready for my double shift with 60 patients
    at the nursing home . Soon it will be the same at general hospital . It ain’t no soap opera out there .
    Have fun !

  2. All I can say about that senators remark is: walk in my shoes for a day and see how many butts you have to come in contact with. Smart sick people remind me of the so many sick senators in Washington. They do nothing but sit on their butts and send out non-substantial remarks about a subject they have no real knowledge about. If the senator and his constituents really want to make a difference do something about the mess you were sent to Washington to clean up but instead you have made a bigger mess. And approve some of the medicines that would be beneficial for the people that can not afford the meds they need.

  3. Dear Senator,
    I can assure you that Nurses do not sit around playing cards. Nurses are very hard working professionals taking care of sick patient’s 24/7 even when they are working short staff. It is very discouraging when someone of your stature makes a statement that disrespects hard-working nurses. You should apologize and hope that you don’t end up in a rural hospital somewhere.

  4. I can not believe she said nurses play cards .I have worked half of my break and even throughout my break to get my work done .Saying nurses spend their time playing cards !!!This is unacceptable and I do not think she should get elected ever again .She is a heartless person who knows nothing about the responsibilities and work nurses do.So many nurses barely get a chance to make it to the bathroom. She should not be working as a decision maker or influencer over people in general.If she looks down on nurses she looks down on other jobs too!!!

  5. I work in small LTC facility, 39 beds, and I have never had time to play cards. The nurses who work in those small rural hospitals don’t either as they are probably also chronically short staffed too. Younger people don’t want to work that hard for so much hassle and too little pay and I don’t blame them

  6. SHAME ON YOU Senator!!! The day the senator has to rely on her nurse, OH AND SHE WILL, is the day that she will remember what she said. I’m sure she will be will be worried that her nurse will go and “play cards” just for spite. She certainly has no clue what really goes on as a bedside nurse. During my very first orientation out of nursing school, my preceptor was running all over the place doing this and that, calling doctors, paging doctors, answering call lights, all the while I’m running along side her with my mouth hanging open. And I thought, “so this is what the nurses actually do!!” Nurses are the doctor eyes, ears, and voice. Nurses are not only responsible for carrying out orders, they are also responsible for the life of the patient. Being an advocate for the patient is top priority.

    While caring for sick, critical patients during my shift, I am lucky to get a drink of water, let alone go to the restroom. Getting lunch is impossible some days and I barely know my way to the cafeteria. Working on an intermediate unit, my time consists of chasing down physicians, social workers, titrating drips, reassuring patients and family, explaining and answering things again because the surgery resident was in and out before the patient even realized which doctor he was talking to, being a psychiatrist, ensuring that the patients walk, pass gas, use the incentive spirometry, and that their vital signs and heart rhythm are monitored closely in order to detect a stroke, bleed, MI, or worse, and then I try to chart everything on time so I can leave at a decent time at the end of my shift. The amazing thing is I still haven’t tended to my own needs during my shift, so HOW, in the name of Goodness, would I have time to hold a handful of cards, AND, by the way, who am I going to play cards with???

  7. When I read about what the senator said I was not shock. I saw that many times where nurses are on the computer and their phone playing card games and shopping. I rebuked many of them about such activities on the unit I worked. I get very annoyed when nurses get so angry about the truth when it is said.You may not have witness it but it is wide spread in many areas. The nurses that do those things makes it very bad for those of us that are compassionate and professional in the care we provide. The hospital and other health care facilities need to wakeup and listen. Managers the screens are minimized when you are around. It is happening all over.

    • You’re so right, and don’t forget after their weekends off they recite for the entire unit which bars they visited and who they ended up taking home with them! I am opening a travel nurse agency, thinking about calling it “coast to coast sluts”…..

  8. I just worked 24 night shifts in April. 300+ hours. Did it for the PTS. The senator must be playing go fish.

  9. There is no person better than a nurse to explain to the public what nurses do. It is up to us to promote our profession. It is also important that nurses are aware of the position our elected and hoping to be elected officials take on issues. The nurses in Washington State can speak very loudly to Senator Walsh and her views of our profession when her current term is up for re-election.

  10. I think she should follow a nurse for 12 hours and help with cleaning patients and changing beds and not going to the bathroom for hours on end

  11. To: Senator Maureen Walsh,

    I assure you, nurses do NOT sit around playing cards. EVER!

    We hardly ever get to sit.

    I’m appalled at your ignorance, that you are actually voicing your ignorance and – of the thought- that you are actually responsible for representing any Americans anywhere.

    Ms. Senator- YOU are the problem. You and other lawmakers who have no clue what is really happening in the health care industry.

    Speaking as a proud Registered Nurse of 33+ years (working in critical care and multiple other capacities) I have NEVER seen ANY nurse in ANY capacity “playing cards” or wasting precious time over caring for any patient- EVER!

    BUT:
    Here are a few things I HAVE seen and/or experienced first hand:
    -The inability to take a bathroom break, for 8-10 hours, then having to perform CPR, while blood saturates your scrubs and drips down your legs with each chest compression- because you couldn’t change your tampon- and then the embarrassment of having to walk out of the room afterwards and/or ask a coworker- (male nurse) to get you new scrubs – (sorry if this is “gross” or “too graphic” it is – REALITY! )
    – Physicians/nurse managers bringing in food/drinks- otherwise the nurses do not get to eat- anything- all day- because they are too busy saving lives.
    – Thinking you might be able to leave the floor for a 15 min. break, giving report to another nurse to cover for your stable patient, but thinking you should have one last check before leaving, (knowing the other nurse probably won’t be able to check on your patients because she’s got too many of her own-and somehow- having a hunch- that you really should check); then turning down the bedsheets to find your patient profusely bleeding with blood spurting onto your own face-from a gushing femoral artery catheter site, because your patient forgot he was supposed to keep his leg straight and bent his leg; then realizing while you’re standing there, you have nothing but your bare hands, then placing those bare hands into the wound to apply pressure on the site in an attempt to quickly stop the bleeding because you have no time to get gloves or bandages- while simultaneously yelling for help, and praying the bleeding stops; and being – oh so very thankful, (while-trying to keep your body from uncontrollably shaking) – so very thankful- you didn’t leave the floor; knowing if you had- he definitely would have bled to death!
    – Coming in to work on day three of a 12 hr. night shift – with little to no sleep; drinking the thick cold leftover sludge coffee from the morning shift because you HAVE TO STAY AWAKE but are TIRED- because you were up taking care of your own sick child all day. Then finding out you will have to work short staffed, and being told to “do the best you can” by management- because of budget cuts they cannot call anyone in to help.
    – Having to tell your own sick child you are sorry you “cannot stay home with them today, but daddy will be here to take care of you”) and when they ask you why- telling them because you have to go to work to take care of sick people, while your child is crying telling you, “but mommy I’m sick too.” Then getting reamed – because you were 5 min. late because you gave your sick child “just one more hug and kiss mommy” – before you left for work.

    I can go on, but It appears you don’t really care too much.

    – For if you did- you would actually KNOW- what a nurse does- and SUPORT- the nurses that care for all sick PEOPLE- including- you know- you, your family- and those whom voted for you to represent them (to help make their lives better). At least that’s what I THOUGHT your job was.

    Oops- I guess not.

    Maybe I don’t actually know what you do. Maybe I could take a lesson from all senators- on playing cards- see how does that feel?

    Respect is a two way street.

    Really, HOW DARE YOU?

    Your remarks- not only inaccurate are very unprofessional, disrespectful, demeaning and potentially harmful for the future of nursing.

    There is predicted to be a huge future nursing shortage.

    When you put our profession down- it tends to give a very negative impression of all nurses In general, and makes an already very difficult job look less desirable and appealing for our future potential caregivers.
    Who will care for our already aging society?
    Not good.

    You claim you were “tired” and made a mistake.

    However:

    If a nurse is tired- and makes a mistake- it can be detrimental, even FATAL.

    We do not have the luxury of saying, “I’m sorry I was too tired.”

    YET- you have the gaul to insult and belittle our profession.

    FYI- Those smaller/rural hospitals (most times are staffed with less nurses);
    – and may “ONLY SERVE” (we do NOT SERVE- we CARE FOR)
    a “handful” of patients-
    – still require staffing mandates.
    Because:
    – As you pointed out the “CRITICAL” access hospitals- require nurses to care for “CRITICALLY ILL” patients- MULTIPLE patients – most times.
    – While many times a nurse should actually only be caring for ONE patient safely- because of the patients acuity level (basically very-very ill) needing continuous one on one nursing care.
    – Meaning YOU may not be getting the needed undivided individual one to one or even two to one nursing care; and your basic needs may not be met as timely- because someone else is “just a little bit” more critical than you are;
    – Or when two patients go bad at the same time, your nurse may be caring for the other patient- not you!

    All I can say is “GOD FORBID” you are put into this position one day. I ASSURE you- you will certainly change your mind on the importance of the nurses caring for you and the necessity of mandated staffing levels!

    – Maybe all nurses should just say they are too tired to help you- then again, since you already think so- maybe we should all just start playing cards! ♥️ ♣️ ♠️ ♦️

    Nope- sorry- my colleagues- PROFESSIONAL NURSES- ONLY play- ♥️!!!

    I hope you stay healthy Ms. Senator- Please- stay well, because some day you might just need that “too tired, card playing nurse” to care for you- maybe even to save your life.
    Like I said- GOD FORBID.

    ———————————————————————

    Per Senator Maureen Walsh (R) Washington State:

    “The comment made about the ability to play cards was referring to the staff at the very rural and small critical access hospitals who may only serve a handful of patients and the staffing mandates are unnecessary,” the statement reads in part. “This was a statement amendment by the minority party to try to make a point on the floor about the bill.”

    She additionally told the Tri-City Herald on Saturday that her initial comment wasn’t meant to be malicious.

    “I was tired,” she told the outlet. “I said something I wish I hadn’t

  12. I have been practicing nursing in many positions both inpatient and outpatient. I must say that in the past 46 years of service I have never played cards or seen any nurse do anything that would come close to ignoring their patients. Personally, my fellow nurses and myself have gone without food or even a bathroom break if we were involved in tasks that benefited our patients health and well being. Apparently this woman is as ignorant as they come and she should work with a nurse on a shift so she can educate herself on what nurses endure every day of the year. Perhaps then she would have more respect for what her mother went through, if that statement was even true.

  13. Most lay people have no idea what nurses do and would be horrified if they had to experience it. The way nurses are portrayed on tv and in print is demeaning and disrespectful. We, as nurses, need to educate the public to what we actually do and are responsible for. Let’s start with Sen. Walsh!

  14. The bigger problem is the senators logic made no sense. She does not want mandated breaks for nurses at critical access hospitals because they have limited staff and are not very busy most of the time. If they are all sitting aroud that would mean the nurses at these hospitals would have no pro blem getting their breaks. She demeaned a whole profession in order to keep the people who support her campaign happy and that is the hospital administrators. When nurses are paid for their worth instead of being thrown under the bus while hospital CEO’s make millions, then politikcians will recognize the fact we are not just “hand maidens”.

  15. There is no end to the stupidity that we have seen in Washington, D.C. How anyone could make such a comment is beyond belief. Even in my “down time” in my school nursing role, I am making calls to complete charts with vital information needed in an emergency or looking up medication details to provide better service to my clients. The Senator should apologize and hope she never needs quality care from a card-playing nurse.

  16. Senators are nothing but con artists these days and will say anything to cater to their PACs to get more money sent their way.

  17. And yet, year after year, we remain the #1 most trusted profession.
    Perhaps we “just play our cards right” giving care and listening to our patients.

  18. A critical part of being a public servant is that you think before you speak and if you do speak you have the proof to back your statement. The fact that we have someone at this level of government that thinks this way about what nurses do is very sad and ignorant. Perhaps she has never had a nurse take care of a family member or child? NOT. I am disappointed.

  19. Her lack of comprehension of a nurse’s duties doesn’t even warrant a comment! I was simply appalled.

  20. I was so happy to hear she got 17000 decks of cards!!! One even sent a letter containing all hearts with the note the senator did not have one!!!
    Way to go nurses to responded to this hoof in mouth disease!

  21. The Senator apologized. We know what we are all about. We should have enough pride in our nursing profession and confidence in our work that we cannot and will not be so easily demeaned by one misinformed person-Senator or not.

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