Health officials upset over nurse-to-patient ratio house bill - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Health officials upset over nurse-to-patient ratio house bill

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MT. VERNON, Ill. -- A bill moving through the Illinois General Assembly sets limits on the number of patients Illinois nurses can care for. If House Bill 2604 passes, Illinois will become the second state to set minimum staffing requirements for nursing. While many nurses support the bill, one healthcare administrator tells News 3, while the bill seems good on paper, it's a horrible move by lawmakers.

"There are lots of components to staffing. [It's more] than just setting a number and saying these are the numbers that you should have to provide care for the patients," said Brenda Alexander, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources at SSM Health in Mt. Vernon.

House Bill 2604 requires one nurse for every four patients in medical and surgical units, one nurse for every three patients in intermediate care, and one nurse for every two patients in the ICU.

But, Alexander explains the nurses would then have double the work, "When we take care of our patients on the medical surgical floor it's just more of just the register nurse that's providing the care to that patient we have charge nurse that are involved," said Alexander.

The bill is based on a similar law passed in California in 2004. California is currently the only state to mandate specific nurse-patient ratios.

Alexander says the number of nurses in Illinois is already expected to be a major concern in the near future, "The Illinois nursing workforce center predicts that in 2020 that we will have a shortage of 21,000 nurses in Illinois."

She explains if the bill is passed it'll scare nurses away from the state which would lead to poor patient care, "If there aren't staff to take care of the patients in the bed, we can't put the patients there." 

If you have an opinion on this bill, you can contact your local lawmakers and voice your concerns.

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