‘Safe staffing saves lives’: Nurses march at Oklahoma state Capitol for better working conditions

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — A nationwide fight to protect nurses came to the Oklahoma state Capitol Thursday with a group marching and hoping they’ll be heard.

Feeling safe and respected in the health care system is what nurses hope for. Some say it has been far too long and they must take action.

“A lot of times as nurses we don’t have anybody advocating for us,” intensive care unit travel nurse Michael Kleckner said.

Nurses across the nation are saying enough is enough.

“We came into this profession because this is something we care about. We want to help other people,” nursing education Rachael Kleckner said.

She and others said nurses need change to best serve patients.

“While it might take us a little bit longer to get there, we will, because it’s what we deserve and what our patients deserve,” she said.

They’re fighting for legislative action that would support safe staffing measures such as requiring nurse-to-patient ratios to focus on direct care.

“If that’s your parent, your grandparent, your child in the ICU, and they should have a nurse one to one because they’re so sick, do you want me taking two other patients at the same time?” Michael Kleckner said.

Fair pay and staffing shortages are also issues.

“We’re put in circumstances that really push us beyond our means,” said Bobbi Six, congregate settings coordinator for the state health department.

Michael Kleckner pointed to nurse burnout.

“What’s the incentive to stay in Oklahoma? There’s not one, There’s not,” he said.

Gov. Kevin Stitt said that the state is working to help nurses and helped double the nursing class size at the University of Oklahoma this year.

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