U.S.

GOP Senator Who Said Nurses Play Cards for ‘Considerable Amount' of Day Sent Hundreds of Playing Cards

A Washington UPS branch has received hundreds of packets of playing cards for a politician who made a controversial statement about medical experts last week.

The United Parcel Service store in Tumwater has been sent more than 660 packets of cards addressed to Senator Maureen Walsh (R), who said during a debate last Tuesday that some rural nurses “probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day,”  KOMO reported.

At the time, she was speaking in the Washington State Senate about SHB 1155, which proposed uninterrupted meal and rest breaks for healthcare staff. Walsh supported an amendment that would exempt small-town hospitals with fewer than 25 beds from being included.

“By putting these types of mandates on a critical access hospital that literally serves a handful of individuals, I would submit to you those nurses probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day,” the senator said, sparking significant backlash.

As memes spread on social media in response to her comment, an official from the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) branded it “demeaning” and “incredibly disrespectful.”

A strong-worded open letter speaking in support of nurses was shared hundreds of times on Facebook.  “You’ll find out how right after the next election cycle. You’ll have plenty of time to play cards and plenty of cards to play with yourself then,” it read. At the same time, a Change petition calling for Walsh to shadow a nurse for a 12-hour shift attracted over 760,000 signatures.

On Monday, the Walla Walla senator apologized. She said she had been “tired” at the time of the debate and that her comments were “taken out of context” but “still crossed the line.”

During the debate, the politician said she had also suggested an amendment that would limit rural nurses to eight-hour shifts as an alternative way to combat medical expert fatigue.

In a statement, Walsh said: “I was trying to drive home a point about House Bill 1155, the bill we were debating at the time. It will impose inflexible staffing requirements on hospitals that will dramatically increase their costs. I am worried that 61 of our critical access hospitals, those small-town hospitals with 25 beds or fewer, are already operating in the red.

“This will make them redder, and I am worried this added cost will force some of them to close. It isn’t proper for the Legislature to micromanage the way hospitals manage their staffing.

“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. 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... of patients.”

Referencing the petition, Walsh said she would be “happy to accept” the offer to shadow a nurse. The Tumwater UPS store did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek. Drew Mikkelsen, KING-5's South Bureau Chief, posted a video of the cards to Twitter Tuesday.

Join the Discussion

Editor's Pick