ANA-Illinois and Illinois Health and Hospital Association agree on a legislative proposal to improve patient safety through partnership
February 20, 2020 (MANTENO, ILLINOIS)—The American Nurses Association of Illinois (ANA-Illinois) and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) have introduced a legislative proposal that gives nurses a voice in determining appropriate staffing levels at hospitals, based on the conditions and care needs (acuity) of their patients. The proposal, Senate Bill 3636, is a bipartisan effort to strengthen the Nurse Staffing by Patient Acuity Act and is aimed at improving quality and patient safety through a partnership between direct care nurses and the hospital community. Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford is the sponsor of SB3636.
Through SB3636, ANA-Illinois and IHA also address Illinois’ nurse shortage. According to the Illinois Nursing Workforce Center, over the next five years, the state will lose one-third of its nursing workforce to retirement. Under SB3636, hospitals will provide $500,000 in each of the next four academic years for nurse scholarships to increase the number of new graduates entering the profession. Additionally, the bill addresses the nursing faculty shortage by incentivizing nurse educators to stay in higher education through a new 2.5% income tax credit.
Other key provisions of SB3636 center around the Nursing Care Committee. The Nurse Staffing Patient Acuity Act requires that Illinois’ hospitals have a hospital-wide Nursing Care Committee. Under SB3636, the Nursing Care Committee must:
- be comprised of at least 55% direct care nurses.
- be co-chaired by a direct care nurse.
- produce a hospital-wide staffing plan, including inpatient emergency departments.
- consider issues such as patient outcomes; complaints related to staffing; the number of nursing hours provided compared to the number of patients on the unit; aggregate overtime nursing hours worked; the degree to which actual shifts worked varied from what is provided for in the staffing plan.
- design a mechanism for nurses to report variations from the staffing plan with respect to the assignment of nursing personnel and a process for such reports to be reviewed and addressed.
- meet at least twice per year, with reports to be provided to direct care nurses.
- issue an annual report to the Hospital’s governing board, including recommendations for future changes to nurse staffing.
SB3636 prohibits any retaliation for any employee who expresses a concern or complaint regarding a violation of the Nurse Staffing by Patient Acuity Act or concerns related to nurse staffing.
Finally, the bill authorizes the Illinois Department of Public Health to enforce compliance of these requirements by requiring the submission of a corrective action plan, imposing fines if a hospital engages in a pattern or practice of violations, and publicly disclosing violations. Money from fines would fund scholarships under the Nursing Education Scholarship Law.