Prince George's Council Vice President Blegay hosts a press conference prior to a vote on a bill to address nurse-to-patient ratios. The bill was advanced. (Richard D. Elliott/The Washington Informer)
Prince George's Council Vice President Blegay hosts a press conference prior to a vote on a bill to address nurse-to-patient ratios. The bill was advanced. (Richard D. Elliott/The Washington Informer)

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Blegay Advances Legislation To Address Nurse-Patient Ratios

Last Tuesday, Prince George’s County Council Vice Chair Wala Blegay (D) hosted a press conference inside Largo’s Wayne K. Curry Administration Building to build support for her legislation to reduce nurse-to-patient ratios, which was advanced later that same day.

Blegay, who has served as legal counsel to the DC Nurses Association, originally introduced this legislation in March. 

Over a dozen advocates were present to support Blegay at her press conference. Several were members of SEIU 1199, a union primarily composed of healthcare workers. Councilmembers Krystal Oriadha (D) and Edward Burroughs (D) also attended. Signs to “Support Safe Staffing” and “Save Lives” sat behind the podium as she discussed the legislation. 

“We are talking about nurse-patient ratios in Prince George’s County. We have a healthcare crisis here. We are lacking the professional staff. We are standing next to a hospital that has been full since the day it opened due to a lack of staffing,” said Blegay to open her press conference. “This is about quality healthcare. If you give an ICU nurse more than one patient, that could cost someone their life. Our nurses are overworked, and we cannot have that in Prince George’s County.” 

Oriadha thanked Blegay for her advocacy on this issue, and noted her years of advocacy even before becoming elected. “Nurses are the frontline of service in healthcare. This is life or death, plain and simple.”

Lauren Reichard, a healthcare worker who attended the conference in her scrubs, noted the importance of full staffing to give all patients the best care they can receive. “People are going outside of Prince George’s and Maryland to get medical care,” she said. She wants legislation to lower nurse-to-patient ratios across the board, and she fully believes that “Safe staffing saves lives.”

Blegay’s legislation would authorize the Board of Health, run by the Prince George’s County Council, to collect data on nurse-patient ratios, submit findings to the County Council and report said findings to state legislative leaders such as Governor Wes Moore (D) and Speaker Adrienne Jones (D) to use Prince George’s County as an example of how to reduce nurse-patient ratios. According to a hospital review, the average wait time in a Maryland emergency room (three hours and 48 minutes) are the longest wait times in the nation.

Blue Line Corridor Awaits New Changes

At a Blue Line Corridor walk earlier this week, local officials and development partners saw a small glimpse of what the project plans to do. Delegate Jazz Lewis (D- District 24) and County Councilmember Krystal Oriadha (D- District 7) served as some of the speakers. Kyle Reeder of Rise Prince George’s and Cheryl Cort of the Coalition for Smarter Growth served as guides on the tour from Addison Road Metro Station to The Epiphany at 6600 Central.

Delegate Lewis, standing with his son in his arms, talked about the importance of public transit for future generations and their opportunities. Councilmember Oriadha, who lives in Seat Pleasant and represents much of the Inner Beltway, spoke of the direct impact the Blue Line Corridor’s funding will have on her and her neighbors. 

The Blue Line Corridor is an area roughly stretching from Largo to Capitol Heights along existing Metro routes. The area, which some County leaders say hasn’t received adequate infrastructure investments since Dwight D. Eisenhower served as President, is receiving hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. Lewis sponsored legislation, with County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) testifying in support, to authorize $400,000 in state investment to bring a new amphitheater, bike lanes, affordable housing and healthy food options to central Prince George’s County. 

Search Committee Seeks Input for Next PGCPS CEO

In late April, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) held a town hall meeting at Charles H. Flowers High School to provide input on the next PGCPS CEO as the current CEO Monica Goldson, will be leaving the school system at the end of this school year. 

She was joined by a Search Committee comprised of State Board of Education Member Brigadier General Warner Sumpter, retired educator Arethra Bridgewater-Simms and former Hyattsville Mayor Candice Hollingsworth, who has a child in the school system. “We are excited to have this outstanding team to pick the best leader for our public schools,” said Alsobrooks. 

The first attendee to speak was Jason Gordon, a 19-year employee of the school system and graduate of PGCPS who has two students in the school system himself. 

“I want to thank Dr. Goldson for her leadership during unprecedented times. As we look forward to the future, the next leader needs to be a creative coalition builder who can gather the masses of staff and lead us into the next era– creative with a vision for academics and safety,” he said. Gordon cited East Baton Rouge Superintendent of Students Dr. Sito Narcisse and Millcreek Township Superintendent Dr. Ian Roberts as outside examples of what to seek in the next CEO. He also recommended Dr. Charoscar Coleman, who currently works in PGCPS as the Associate Superintendent of Supporting Services.

Over a dozen area residents provided testimony on what they want in the next school CEO. Former School Board Member Belinda Queen, Glenarden Mayor Cashenna Cross and advocate Phyllis Wright were some of those present. Attendees estimated about 100 residents were present, significantly fewer than participated in a tele-town hall only a few days prior. 

“This is an important position. I’m disappointed to see so few residents in attendance,” said Queen at the beginning of her two-minute testimony. “This is for our children.” 

Queen expressed strong support for Goldson’s tenure while she served on the Board of Education, and seeks a CEO that follows the current leader’s example.

Linda Thorton-Thomas, president of the Prince George’s County NAACP, provided a statement to the Informer on behalf of the County Chapter.

“We firmly believe that transparency and inclusivity are essential in this selection. This is because everyone has the responsibility to provide a supportive structure that contributes to the excellence of our students. At this time, we feel there is more we can do to keep our residents and stakeholders engaged,” the statement said. 

“It is most important to have representation from a well-balanced perspective and a process in place that encourages openness to sharing important characteristics and qualities that we want in our next school superintendent,” the statement added.  “Input and collaboration from parent groups, teachers, community organizations, and students about the important attributes we want our school superintendent to possess is vital.”

Wells Fargo Gives Sponsor Exemption to D.C. Native Marcus Byrd

Marcus Byrd and Quinn Riley, both successful Advocates Professional Golf Association (APGA) Tour players, accepted special sponsor exemptions late last month from Wells Fargo to compete in the Wells Fargo Championship as the PGA TOUR returns to Charlotte and Quail Hollow Club in early May.

Byrd, a 25-year-old D.C. native, received the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption into The Genesis Invitational and he won the APGA Farmers Insurance Invitational at Torrey Pines to earn an exemption into The Honda Classic a week later, giving him back-to-back starts on the PGA TOUR. Byrd has won three times on the APGA Tour, and prior to turning pro was the 2019 Conference USA Player of the Year while at Middle Tennessee State. This will be his fourth PGA TOUR start. Byrd credits golf for giving him the skill of handling adversity, developing patience and giving him the opportunity to care for and support his family. 

“You have to have a good game plan and trust the preparation that you’ve put in. After that everything else is out of your control,” Byrd said to describe his approach to the game. 

“I’m truly honored to play in the Wells Fargo Championship this year and thank everyone involved for the opportunity,” Byrd added. “Being from D.C. and seeing the event last year inspired me, and I’m so thankful to play this year in Charlotte. From First Tee to support of the APGA Tour, I appreciate Wells Fargo’s commitment to championing young golfers,” said Byrd.

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