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Nearly 600 nurses to participate in Nurse Day at Texas Capitol to advocate for policy changes

Texas nurses will express their support, concerns and interests to legislators on Tuesday afternoon.

AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds of nurses will be at the State Capitol on Tuesday to advocate for policy changes during Nurse Day.

Texas nurses will express their support, concerns and interests to legislators on Tuesday afternoon. Nearly 600 nurses will come together to talk about nursing issues and identify opportunities to influence health care policy.

"We have two bills right now that we are hoping to pass, which is really around funding to support nursing education, as well as provide scholarships for those who are interested in becoming nurses," said Serena Bumpus, CEO of the Texas Nurses Association.

Nurse Day comes a month after the group held a nationwide protest to shed light on hospitals' prioritization of money over patient care. Ascension Seton nurses gathered at the administrative office of Ascension Seton Medical Center to hold a candlelight vigil in January.

“We need the hospital industry to start putting their nurses – and patient care – above profits. That means significant investments in staffing so hospitals can recruit and retain nurses,” said Kristine Kittelson, an Ascension Seton Medical Center mother-baby registered nurse.

These issues have led to nursing shortages and burnout. National Nurses United (NNU) stated that nurses were dealing with the winter surge of RSV, influenza and COVID-19, which resulted in crisis conditions due to hospitals decreasing inpatient beds and short-staffed units to help maximize profit.

In 2022, expenses across Texas hospitals were around $18.1 billion, which was significantly higher than before the pandemic. These expenses created problems and increased risks of closures for rural hospitals, according to John Henderson, president and CEO of the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals (TORCH).

The 88th Texas Legislature has already introduced several bills to help support nursing and nurses across Texas. House Bill 901, sponsored by State Rep. Stephanie Klick, and Senate Bill 244, proposed by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, would focus on postsecondary education for nurses along with loan repayment assistance.

"What's really powerful is there's a lot of nurses that are currently practicing at the bedside that are here and present, so I think that's going to be great for legislators to know and learn about the challenges we face every day," said Mary Bitullo, a nurse and the board director for the TNA.

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