BOSTON (WHDH) - Hundreds of people, including soccer star Kristine Lilly, gathered in support of nurses at the Massachusetts State House Wednesday, pushing for protections while recognizing the work nurses do. 

The event was part of the Massachusetts Nurses Association’s Day of Advocacy.

Inside the State House, members of the crowd listened as Lilly, a former player for the US Women’s National Team, drew parallels between her decades-long fight for gender equity and pay, and the fight that nurses across the state assembled for in Boston. 

“You guys are a team,” Lilly said. “You’re one big team.” 

“You are on the front line caring for patients,” she said. “But you also need to be cared for, as well.” 

Nurses were set to meet all day with lawmakers about legislation to protect health care facilities from closure, to ensure safe staffing levels and to protect nurses and healthcare workers from workplace violence after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I want to share a short list of important words with you,” one speaker said. “They are fear, terror, pain, suffering, worry, devaluation, disrespect, and anger. And I share them with you because these words best describe my own encounter with workplace violence.”

Speakers cited burnout, stress and exhaustion as reasons why one in five nurses plan to leave their profession within two years. 

With legislative action, nurses in Boston said they hope to reverse that statistic. 

“Patients are suffering needlessly,” said registered nurse Marlena Llegriano. “And it’s time for our corporations and our legislators to listen to us and pass legislation that will protect our patients and our healthcare workers.”

As part of National Nurses Week, the Massachusetts Nurses Association also released a “state of nursing survey.” In the survey, the association said it found nurses are not only concerned with their own workplace safety, but also concerned with patient quality of care. The association said the level of concern about quality of care has more than doubled over the past 10 years.

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