Nurses rally for higher staffing requirement at hospitals

  • Paul Pater, a nurse from Evergreen Park, knocks on the front door of the Joint Commission building in Oakbrook Terrace, hoping to deliver a petition with more than 540,000 signatures Tuesday.

      Paul Pater, a nurse from Evergreen Park, knocks on the front door of the Joint Commission building in Oakbrook Terrace, hoping to deliver a petition with more than 540,000 signatures Tuesday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Paul Pater, a nurse from Evergreen Park, tries to deliver a petition Tuesday to the Joint Commission building in Oakbrook Terrace. The petition calls for the commission to require safe staffing ratios as part of its accreditation process.

      Paul Pater, a nurse from Evergreen Park, tries to deliver a petition Tuesday to the Joint Commission building in Oakbrook Terrace. The petition calls for the commission to require safe staffing ratios as part of its accreditation process. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Jeanette Alvarez, a nurse at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, bangs her hand on the front door window of the Joint Commission building in Oakbrook Terrace during a rally on Tuesday.

      Jeanette Alvarez, a nurse at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, bangs her hand on the front door window of the Joint Commission building in Oakbrook Terrace during a rally on Tuesday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • More than 50 nurses participated in a rally Tuesday outside the Joint Commission building in Oakbrook Terrace. They delivered a petition demanding that safe staffing ratios be a requirement for health care organizations seeking accreditation.

      More than 50 nurses participated in a rally Tuesday outside the Joint Commission building in Oakbrook Terrace. They delivered a petition demanding that safe staffing ratios be a requirement for health care organizations seeking accreditation. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Rebecca Rader, a nurse who lives in Lombard, gathered with other nurses during a rally Tuesday outside the Joint Commission building in Oakbrook Terrace.

      Rebecca Rader, a nurse who lives in Lombard, gathered with other nurses during a rally Tuesday outside the Joint Commission building in Oakbrook Terrace. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/15/2022 7:28 PM

Nurses from around the suburbs and Chicago rallied Tuesday outside the headquarters of a nonprofit group that accredits health care organizations to call for increased staffing at hospitals.

The group of more than 50 people gathered in front of the Joint Commission building in Oakbrook Terrace to deliver a petition with more than 540,000 signatures. The petition demands that safe staffing ratios be a requirement for organizations seeking accreditation.

 

Some of the supporters pounded on the windows of the building, trying to get a response from people inside. They also stacked empty boxes representing the signatures inside a revolving door.

Rally participant Paul Pater, a nurse from Evergreen Park, says he is on medical leave after being attacked by a patient at the University of Chicago Hospital.

"People like myself are getting hurt every day, and the Joint Commission isn't doing anything about it," he said.

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Jonathan Perlin, president and CEO of the commission, said staffing issues cannot be resolved by the commission alone.

He said what happened Tuesday was not "conducive to the meaningful dialogue required" to address the issue.

"Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all or immediate solution," Perlin said in his statement. "Addressing the root causes of the staffing shortage is the only way to create long-term and sustainable improvement."

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Rebecca Rader, a nurse who lives in Lombard, held up a sign that read, "JC was MIA during the pandemic."

"We need to fight for ourselves because nobody else will," she said.

Perlin acknowledged the pandemic has taken its toll on health care workers.

"Health care workers are not immune to the stresses, physical exhaustion and moral injury that have been amplified in the cruel wake of COVID-19," he said in his statement. "We know that without a mentally healthy workforce, we cannot have safe care."

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