A UPS store in Washington state said it received 667 packages of playing cards Tuesday addressed to the state Sen. Maureen Walsh (R), who’s been in hot water since saying that nurses “play cards for a considerable amount of the day.”
The UPS store is in Tumwater, Washington, according to local CNN affiliate KOMO News.
The cards reportedly came after an open letter posted April 22 by Facebook user Shy Braaten called for people to send a deck of cards to Walsh. The post included a photo of Walsh with an address, saying “Send me a deck of cards!”
“I know nurses who can go all night without food or a bathroom break. I know nurses with nerve damage and back pain from doing whatever it takes to take care of patients. I know nurses who cry in their cars,” the letter read. “Do you think that’s where they play cards, Senator Walsh?”
The letter was in response to Walsh’s April 16 comments about nurses in smaller, rural hospitals. She was arguing to exempt some hospitals from a bill that would require uninterrupted lunch breaks and rest periods for hospital nurses and certain health care employees.
“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,” Walsh said on the Senate floor. “They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.”
The comments sparked an online change.org petition demanding Walsh shadow a nurse on a 12-hour shift, which more than 750,000 people signed as of Wednesday night.
Walsh apologized Monday in a lengthy statement, and said that she would gladly accept the challenge to shadow a nurse.
“I was tired, and in the heat of argument on the Senate floor, I said some things about nurses that were taken out of context - but they still crossed the line,” she said. “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.”
The state House passed the bill in discussion on March 6. The Senate approved the bill on March 16, including Walsh’s amendment that excludes small, rural hospitals from the uninterrupted breaks mandate. The bill also includes an amendment, backed by Walsh, that limits the number of hours nurses can work in a 24-hour period.
The Washington State Nurses Association opposes both amendments, calling them “unworkable for most hospitals and unfair to nurses.”
Lawmakers will discuss the House and Senate versions of the bill before a final version is sent to Gov. Jay Inslee (D) for consideration.