The California Nurses Association (CNA) recently applauded the state Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom for signing into law A.B. 128, which includes a one-time $10 million infusion into the Song-Brown Health Care Workforce Training Program. The funds are specifically to support Board of Registered Nursing approved pre-licensure programs, with priority for public programs, which nurses say is critical to developing a strong registered nurse workforce to care for California patients and communities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made our need for health care workers startlingly clear – in particular, registered nurses, who care for patients up and down the state,” said CNA President Cathy Kennedy, RN. “Given the current COVID-19 crisis, CNA sought after these funds and will continue to work with the Legislature and the Governor to ensure that additional monies set aside for workforce training will be prioritized to increase capacity for registered nursing pre-licensure programs.”
Nurses point out that during the winter COVID surge, the state waived its nation-leading safe nurse-to-patient staffing limits (or “ratios”), citing a lack of licensed registered nurses to provide care for the overwhelming number of hospitalized patients. Nurses claim that this staffing shortage was a result of many hospitals’ own failure to staff up and execute appropriate cross training of staff.
California then had to step in and assist in providing registered nurses to general acute care hospitals in order to provide safe patient care. Specifically, as of March 2021, the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) approved 11,360 RNs and nurse practitioners from outside of California to assist in healthcare facilities.
Nurses say A.B. 128 will be invaluable in helping to build and grow the registered nurse workforce inside the state.
“Given the uncertainty of this pandemic and the inclusion of additional California residents into the healthcare system, now is the time for a real investment into our public health system,” said Kennedy. “Strengthening our workforce pipelines for registered nurses is key to ensuring the highest quality of patient care for all people in California.”
The California Nurses Association is affiliated with National Nurses United, the largest and fastest growing union of registered nurses in the United States with more than 175,000 members nationwide. CNA/NNU plays a leadership role in safeguarding the health and safety of RNs and their patients and has won landmark legislation in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease and workplace violence prevention.