(CBS NEWS)- State Senator Maureen Walsh is feeling the wrath of the nurses she offended. The lawmaker from Washington state said last week that nurses should be exempt from uninterrupted meal breaks and mandatory overtime protection because they “probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.” In retaliation, Walsh was sent about 1,700 decks of cards.
Walsh posed with an avalanche of mail that hit her office. Inside several postal bins were boxes of playing cards, sent from nurses across the country, the state senator’s office said in a statement.
Walsh’s comments about nurses were made on Senate floor last Tuesday. They went viral Friday after the Washington State Nurses Association posted a blog post about it. There were so many readers on the site that the blog temporarily crashed on Friday, according to the Spokane-Review.
In addition to the playing cards, Walsh’s office received 10,000 emails and more than 35,000 phone calls, the statement said.
Walsh has apologized for saying nurses spend their days playing cards – but the decks just keep on coming. “Walsh plans to distribute the cards to nursing homes and veterans’ and senior centers,” the statement read. “She has enlisted fellow senators in helping identify facilities that might be able to use them.”
While the state senator said she regrets the remarks, she is still opposed to House Bill 1155, which would mandate that small-town hospitals and large urban facilities to provide uninterrupted rest and meal breaks to nurses during their shifts. This measure, she said, would increase staffing costs and require the hiring of more nurses. Walsh said she is concerned the expense would drive low-traffic smaller hospitals out of business.
Well over half-million people signed a Change.org petition urging Walsh to follow a nurse during a 12-hour shift – she said she would accept the challenge, her office said.