Washington state senator apologies for comments about nurses playing cards

A Washington state senator on Monday apologized for comments she made last week stating that nurses spend their time playing cards, according to KING 5 News.

“I’d be happy to come in and work in a hospital with them for a while and shadow them and see their job. I’m pretty well aware of what their job is — I know how demanding it is,” Sen. Maureen Walsh (R) said on the Senate floor after facing backlash for her previous comments.

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"I love my nurses. I'm really sorry. I'm more sorry about the political gaming that caused this disruption,” Walsh added Monday, claiming the remarks were taken out of context by state Democrats. “I have great respect for nurses. My mother was a registered nurse for many years.”

During a floor debate last week over a bill that would require uninterrupted meal and rest breaks for certain health care workers, Walsh argued the requirement would be an undue burden on smaller rural facilities.

"I would submit to you that those nurses probably do get breaks," Walsh said. "They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day."

The comments were widely condemned and sparked a Change.org petition calling for Walsh to shadow nurses for a 12-hour shift, which has over 657,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning.

“I would like to take a stand and petition to have the Senator experience what really happens during an RN’s 12-hour shift,” Juliana Bindas, who started the petition, wrote in its description.

The Washington State Nurses Association also condemned the comments, writing, “mandatory overtime is bad for patient care and it’s bad for your rural hospitals. With all due respect, Sen. Walsh: perhaps it’s time for you to put down the cards and pick up the literature.”

“I really don’t believe nurses at our critical-access hospitals spend their days playing cards, but I did say it, and I wish I could reel it back,” Walsh said Monday. “Again, I 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.”