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LettersEditor

Every hour, every day, your local hospitals provide life-saving care to everyone who comes through their doors. However, lawmakers in Springfield are considering a proposal – House Bill 2604 – that would take away the ability of local hospitals and healthcare professionals to decide how best to care for patients and keep healthcare close to home, where it should be.

This proposal – “mandatory nurse staffing ratios” – would dictate exactly how many patients a nurse can serve at any given time at every Illinois hospital. This rigid, one-size-fits-all approach ignores the seriousness of each patient’s injury or illness and the skills, specialized training and experience of each nurse in a hospital unit.

The number of patients and their conditions, change quickly in hospitals. Local healthcare professionals need flexibility to adjust to properly staff the emergency room and hospital units. Healthcare shouldn’t be boiled down to a simple set of numbers.

While supporters of ratios say it will help patients, it will do the opposite. Hospitals will have to lay off key support staff and reduce services. At critically busy times, when your local hospitals are needed most, they will be forced to divert patients further away to other hospitals to comply with the ratio mandate.

Illinois doesn’t have enough nurses to meet the ratios – with a shortage of 21,000 nurses, and one-third of registered nurses planning to retire within five years.

Only one state in the country, California, has adopted nurse staffing ratios. After many studies on the experience in California, there is no conclusive evidence that ratios improve quality or patient outcomes.

On behalf of 200 hospitals and health systems across the state, the Illinois Health and Hospital Association urges lawmakers to reject House Bill 2604 or any other proposal imposing nurse staffing ratios. It’s not good for patients. 

AJ Wilhelmi, president, Illinois

Health & Hospital Association, Naperville

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