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Nurses march at Florida Capitol to rally for better working conditions

WCTV’s Savannah Kelley talked to several nurses from across the state during the Florida Nurse March on May 12, 2022.
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 3:55 PM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2022 at 3:56 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Thousands of nurses marched across the country Thursday to rally for better working conditions.

Dozens gathered at the Florida Capitol to bring their concerns to light.

One of those concerns is workplace violence.

According to a study from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, 50% of all workplace violence victims are healthcare professionals.

WCTV’s Savannah Kelley talked to several nurses from across the state.

Every one of them said they had experienced workplace violence.

Those nurses say they’ve been threatened, kicked, scratched and punched by patients. Most of that violence goes unreported.

Enduring this, coupled with staffing shortages and low pay, is pushing nurses to say they’ve had enough.

“I really want the public to be aware of this issue because ultimately, it affects them,” said Elizabeth Chirveno, a critical care nurse.

Chirveno is one of the organizers of the Florida Nurse March.

She said making sure hospitals are properly staffed is essential to public health.

“When you have your grandmother or uncle or cousin go into the hospital, you want them to get better and get out of the hospital while they’re there and get the best care they can have,” she said.

The nurses WCTV spoke to at the capitol say that doesn’t always happen.

At many hospitals there just isn’t enough staff to properly care for patients.

According to National Nurses United, patient mortality increases by 7% for every additional patient that a nurse takes on.

“My ratio as a CNA in a long-term care facility is one to 20. How can you adequately care for 20 patients?” said Candy Crenshaw, a certified nursing assistant.

Crenshaw worked at a long-term care facility for a year, until the conditions became unbearable.

Now, she’s a traveling nurse based out of Tallahassee.

Another Tallahassee-based nurse, Sherrie Hesse, remembers working 80-hour weeks just to pay her bills on a nurse’s salary.

“I was working 3 different jobs,” Hesse said.

Hesse said she loves helping patients and wants to stay in the profession, but something has to change.

“There is no way that you can work in this field and get the pay that you would get and get treated the way that you do what you do. And at the end of the day, I still care about the patient,” Hesse said.

The Florida Nurse March is supporting national legislation to create nurse staffing ratio mandates.

Several states have their own staff ratio mandates, but Florida is not one of them.

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