Payback in the cards: 1,700 decks for state senator who slighted rural nurses

A Washington state senator has received about 1,700 decks of cards, following her controversial comments about nurses earlier this month, the lawmaker said in a statement April 24.

State Sen. Maureen Walsh faced pushback from nurses after she said some nurses in small, rural hospitals “probably play cards” much of the time. She made the remarks April 16 on the Senate floor amid a debate on a bill that calls for uninterrupted meal and rest breaks for nurses at small-town hospitals and large urban facilities.

Ms. Walsh is quoted in media reports as saying, "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."

The senator has apologized since then and said, "I was tired, and in the heat of argument on the Senate floor, I said some things about nurses that were taken out of context – but still they crossed the line."

She added that she "was simply trying to differentiate between the staffing needs of the small rural critical access hospitals with a handful of patients, versus the large urban hospitals with hundreds and hundreds of patients."

Now, Ms. Walsh said she must determine what to do with about 1,700 decks of cards she has received at her office so far. The cards were sent to the senator’s office after an open letter posted by Facebook user Shy Braaten urged people to do so, according to CNN.

According to the news station, the letter said, "I don't know any nurses who play cards, Senator Walsh. I know nurses who care for babies who were born with their spines on the outside of their bodies and brains that won't stop bleeding. I know nurses who hold infants that can't stop crying because they were born addicted to heroin and methamphetamines."

Ms. Walsh said she plans to distribute the cards to nursing homes and veterans' and senior centers.

The senator has also agreed to shadow a 12-hour nursing shift, after an online petition called for her to “experience what really happens during an RN’s 12-hour shift.”

She remains opposed to the bill, citing concerns about costs for small, critical access hospitals.


More articles on workforce:

After backlash, Washington state senator will shadow 12-hour nursing shift
Washington lawmaker faces backlash after saying some rural hospital nurses may spend time playing cards
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