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Kansas nurses advocate for workplace safety legislation on Capitol Hill

Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 5:20 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Kelly Sommers, the state director for the Kansas State Nurses Association, and nurses from across the country are calling on the Senate to pass legislation which would require health care employers to better protect employees from violence.

Sommers said, “this is an extremely important issue to us as nurses. We’re very excited that it passed the House bipartisan. So we’re hoping the same thing happens again this year in the Senate.”

Terry Siek, the vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer at Hays Medical Center, said, “just in the last two years, our violence against our health care workers at my hospital has increased threefold.”

Sommers and Siek traveled to Washington, D.C. to join an American Nurses Association effort -- pushing for the Senate to pass the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. The legislation passed the House in 2021 with bipartisan support, but the Senate version of the bill is stalled with only Democratic support.

Siek said, “we have a lot of physical assaults, nurses getting kicked, punched that families, families yelling and screaming at nurses over things they have no control over. It just seems like everybody is thinks it’s OK to be invisible.”

Sommers and Siek met with Kansas lawmakers. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), who was a OB-GYN doctor, expressed his support for the nursing profession.

Marshall said, “nurses are important, maybe the most important part of delivering healthcare. So it’s just great to see old friends and talk about issues where we can make a difference.”

A spokesperson for Senator Marshall also added that the senator is examining legislation to address safety for nurses in the workplace.

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