Response to Governor DeWine’s Press Conference on December 17, 2021

“The Ohio Nurses Association applauds Governor DeWine’s recognition of healthcare staffing problems and the needed relief for our healthcare professionals. However, problematic hospital staffing is not unique to this pandemic. Ohio’s nurses are all too familiar with the prevalent unsafe staffing conditions in hospital systems for decades, which is why our association has tried time and again to pass meaningful legislation to address this issue. Like many issues in healthcare, the pandemic has only shed light on pre-existing problems that advocacy groups, such as of ours, have relentlessly attempted to address.  

Additionally, our entire nation is experiencing problems with nursing and healthcare staffing. Hospitals are already hiring travel nurse agencies to bring in RNs from across state lines to help with the shortages, often paying these travel nurses triple what an average nurse makes per hour.  Even with these efforts, hospitals are still having to close off beds because of the lack of staffing. And travel nurse jobs, promising big money in a short amount of time, is luring Ohio nurses from their regular nursing jobs causing a cyclical problem. Ohio nurses need a commitment from our governor and hospitals to improve working conditions, reduce workplace violence, and focus heavily on retention programs to keep Ohio nurses living and working in our communities and caring for their fellow Ohioans. We hope the governor’s efforts do indeed bring about the desperately needed relief for Ohio’s nurses.

Lastly, our hope is that after Covid-19 no longer rules our headlines, our governor, other lawmakers and community members remember what the pandemic has unearthed for all to know. This pandemic has only exacerbated existing issues, causing low morale and nurses leaving the bedside because they just can’t do it anymore. Ohio was on trend to have a registered nurse surplus come 2030, but this trend will only reverse if Ohio decision makers and hospitals do not realign their focus on what is most important: safe patient care rather than bottom line profits.”

-Robert Weitzel, ONA President