OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A Washington state lawmaker has angered nurses and spawned a flurry of viral hashtags and memes on social media by saying that some nurses may spend a lot of time playing cards in small, rural hospitals.
State Sen. Maureen Walsh, a Republican representing College Place, Washington, made the comments this week while debating a Senate bill that would require uninterrupted meal and rest breaks for nurses. The bill would also provide mandatory overtime protections for nurses.
Walsh wants an amendment that would exclude hospitals with fewer than 25 beds from the breaks, The Olympian reported on Friday.
Small, rural hospitals “that literally serve a handful of individuals” will have trouble staying open and nurses in those settings “probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day,” the newspaper quoted Walsh as saying.
A Washington State Nurses Association blog about the comments drew so many readers Friday that the site crashed. The group called the comment disrespectful and patronizing.
The hashtags #maureenwalsh and #nursesplaycards went viral on social media. Comedian Kathy Griffin joined the fray Friday, tweeting that her mother worked in a hospital.
“Thank you of alerting me to a group that even I am not stupid enough to piss off. Ever,” Griffin tweeted.