Our healthcare system and the health professionals who staff it are at the breaking point. Hospitals were understaffed, in many cases dangerously so, long before COVID-19. And now, frontline caregivers are burned out, exhausted from the moral injury of being forced to provide inadequate care and leaving hospital employment in record numbers. Guided by revenue- and profit-driven, often callous decision-making of our nation’s hospitals, executives put their economic bottom line ahead of patient care and the safety of their frontline healthcare workers long before the recent public health emergency. Quite simply, our nation’s hospitals have failed their most basic responsibility: providing a safe place for patients to receive care from healthcare professionals. Dangerous and destructive decision-making by corporate executives has resulted in the real crisis―a five-alarm fire fueled by working conditions that frontline caregivers can no longer endure.
Our Code Red campaign is a response by the AFT and our healthcare affiliates around the country who are leading efforts to secure safe patient limits and other crucial protections to improve the quality of care our patients receive. From state and federal legislation requiring safe patient levels, to enforceable workplace violence standards and collectively bargained contracts that help to recruit and retain frontline caregivers, the AFT’s national campaign, Code Red: Understaffing = Patient Care Crisis, leverages a variety of strategic approaches to improve the quality of care for our patients when they need it most.