Nurse, nurse, don’t call the hearse: In a victory for the nursing lobby, a Sacramento judge has denied a hospital industry petition to loosen up on a new law setting minimum staffing ratios for nurses.
The hospital industry, represented by the lobbying group the California Healthcare Association (CHA), had called the ratios unrealistic and asked for flexibility in applying them.
But Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian ruled that it isn’t unreasonable to expect the ratios to apply at all times, including when a nurse is on break or working elsewhere in the hospital.
David Welch, an Enloe Medical Center nurse and local representative for the California Nurses Association, said the judge’s decision went above and beyond what the union had hoped for. “She really didn’t leave any doors open [for legal challenges],” he said.
Enloe, which supported the CHA’s suit to block the new law, has hired additional nurses to fill in on a rotating basis, but Enloe Spokesperson Ann Prater said it’s been both costly and difficult to implement. “Logistically, there are not enough nurses to meet the demand,” she said.
The CHA says hospitals won’t be able to comply with the mandate, and patients will be jeopardized by being constantly reassigned new nurses, having elective surgeries postponed or being discharged too soon.
Welch disagreed. “This actually improves continuity of care,” he said. “And it’s not impossible. It’s just going to cost them some money.”
Disabled defense: A disabled man busted for giving out fake tickets to drivers parked in handicapped parking spaces told a Superior Court judge this week that his trial ought to be moved to a county with a more accessible courthouse.
Matthew Lakota, a self-styled activist for disabled rights, is charged with attempted extortion and impersonating a police officer. Though not a lawyer, he has become one of the most litigious individuals in the county by suing businesses and county agencies over alleged Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violations. Last year he was declared a “vexatious litigator” by the court, which means that any civil suits he brings must be looked over by a judge before being allowed to proceed.
Representing himself in court Tuesday, he filed a motion to move his case to another county because the Oroville courthouse is supposedly not accessible to the disabled. Although Lakota does not have any visible disabilities, he claims to have back, leg and stomach problems that limit his mobility.
The county courthouse was remodeled a few years ago and according to county officials meets ADA standards. A judge will rule on the change of venue Monday after deciding Friday whether or not Lakota is eligible for a taxpayer-funded public investigator.