THE NURSE STAFFING IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2021
A 21st-Century Solution That Recognizes the Individual Contribution and Added Value of Each Nurse as a Provider of Care.
Hospitals require two things: people needing care and the nurses that provide the care. Every bedside nurse knows what it feels like when staffing is not right. No one staffing model is appropriate for all settings of care or situations. After all, the needs of our patients change continually, so quality care requires nurse-driven, flexible staffing plans. We know that it is only reasonable that those direct-care nurse-experts are the best judge of what patients need day to day and even hour by hour.
THE NURSE STAFFING IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2021 ACHIEVES THREE THINGS:
- STRENGTHENS THE VOICE OF THE DIRECT-CARE REGISTERED NURSE
- STRENGTHENS THE ROLE OF THE NURSING CARE COMMITTEE
- HOLDS HOSPITALS ACCOUNTABLE
Key provisions of the bill include:
- The Nursing Care Committee, comprised of at least 55% direct care nurses, must produce a hospital-wide staffing plan. If the staffing plan developed by the Nursing Care Committee is not adopted by the hospital, the Chief Nursing Officer must provide a written explanation of the reasons why and an explanation of the changes that were made to the proposed plan.
- The staffing plan includes emergency departments.
- In reviewing the staffing plan, the Nursing Care Committee shall 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.
- Require a mechanism for nurses to report variations from the staffing plan with respect to the assignment of nursing personnel and for a process for such reports to be reviewed and addressed.
- Require the Nursing Care Committee to meet at least six times per year (now annually), with reports and information from the committee to be provided to direct care nurses.
- Require the Co-Chair of the Nursing Care Committee to be a direct care nurse elected by direct care nurses.
- Require the Nursing Care Committee to issue an annual report to the Hospital’s governing board, including recommendations for future changes to nurse staffing.
- Prohibit any retaliation for any employee who expresses a concern or complaint regarding a violation of the Nurse Staffing by Patient Acuity Law or concerns related to nurse staffing.
- Authorize the Illinois Department of Public Health to enforce compliance with 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 any fines would fund scholarships under the Nursing Education Scholarship Law.
- Provisions effective on the first day of the month that begins six months after the bill becomes law.
Addressing Illinois’ Nurse Shortage Crisis
Illinois already faces a shortage of 21,000 nurses by 2020, according to the Illinois Nursing Workforce Center, making it impossible to meet the nurse staffing ratios as proposed in House Bill 3871. To address this crisis, IHA is proposing the following:
- Hospitals will provide $2 million over the next five state fiscal years ($500,000/yr) – through the Hospital Licensure Fund – for nurse scholarships to increase the number of new graduate nurses entering the profession.
- Establish a 2.5% income tax credit for nurse educators to recognize, reward, and retain registered nurses with graduate degrees in nursing employed by academic institutions that educate nursing students at all levels of higher education.