Mayo Clinic to be exempt from staffing provisions, lawmakers amend ‘Keeping Nurses at the Beside Act’

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(ABC 6 News) – At the Minnesota capitol, a conference committee is proposing that Mayo Clinic be exempt from part of the ‘Keeping Nurses at the Bedside’ Act.

It’s not a done deal yet, the bill is still in a conference committee. But if the newly amended version of this bill is passed by the House and Senate, all Mayo Clinic locations statewide would be excluded from specific staffing requirements.

The bills main focus is creating staffing committees which would determine safe staffing levels for hospitals and individual units.

On those committees would be hospital management, nurses and other bedside staff.

It also includes sections on tackling workplace violence, loan forgiveness programs and additional protections for nurses in the state.

But a newly introduced amendment would exempt Mayo from being subjected to those staffing committees.

“All hospitals in Minnesota, except for M, would have these important committees where nurses would have a voice,” explained Rep. Sandra Feist (DFL) New Brighton.

This follows warning from Mayo who told lawmakers they’ll pull billions of state investments out of Minnesota if the bill is passed. Something Governor Tim Walz says isn’t worth the risk.

“Mayo is not in the business of bluffing or playing at the politics if you will…but they have to recognize that everything involves a give and take with people. At this point in time we want those investments in Minnesota. They need to be in Minnesota,” Walz said.

Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary Turner says she’s disappointed in the governor and Mayo and again called on lawmakers to pass the bill.

“Someday, all of us and our loved ones will need care in a hospital. When that day comes, people need to know there are enough skilled nurses at the bedside to provide the safe, high-quality care all patients deserve. The Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act is a historic step forward that will give nurses a seat at the table and a voice in the process to improve staffing levels, bring nurses back to the bedside, and protect patient care throughout the state.

Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary Turner

The Minnesota Nurses Association claims that Mayo is trying to blackmail the state legislature, but Mayo says the bill will negatively affect patient care.

Thursday, a conference committee met to discuss the legislation and Mayo’s exemption.

The health care giant goes on to say that their staffing model is already state of the art.

“For Mayo Clinic everything comes down to what’s best for the patients. We believe that Mayo’s model is already far more advanced and frankly essential to providing care for which we are known,” explained State Government Relations Director Kate Johansen.

Rebekah Nelson from the Minnesota Nurses Association says that patients in southeast Minnesota will suffer if Mayo is exempted from the bill.

“The patients in southeast Minnesota deserve the same care from highly skilled professionals” Nelson said.

The exemption decision emerged Thursday from a conference committee working out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

RELATED: Minnesota Hospital Association on Nurses bill

The bill remains in conference committee for now. At some point it would be brought to the house and senate floors for final debate.