COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) — State lawmakers and members of the Ohio Nurses Association gathered Wednesday to announce the introduction of a new bill aimed at combatting the nursing shortage.
According to a study by the Ohio Nurses Association, seven out of every ten nurses are considering leaving bedside nursing. More than half of nurses who already left the profession cite patient care load as the reason.
Rep. Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) said those numbers prompted a bill that would create better work environments for Ohio’s nurses.
“We want to make sure that we’re protecting our nurses because without our nurses, this crisis will only continue to exacerbate. And without good quality nurses, where will all of us and those that we love and care for, where will they go for their care?” Ghanbari explained.
The Nurse Workforce and Safe Patient Care Act would create legally enforceable minimum staffing standards at all Ohio hospitals. It would also create staffing committees at hospitals to form those standards. Robert Weitzel, the President of the Ohio Nurses Association, said these staffing standards will ultimately help the patients.
“Safe staffing is a foundation of quality patient care. Our patients deserve nothing less. And nurses deserve an environment where they can deliver optimal care without undue stress,” Weitzel said.
The bill would also establish a loan to grant program that would incentivize people to pursue a nursing degree. The state would give nursing students a loan, which would be forgiven if the student works in Ohio for five years after graduation.
Hospitals here in the Miami Valley have also struggled with staffing shortages. Sarah Hackenbracht, the President and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, said having enough nurses ensures hospitals can respond to the needs of everyone in the community.
“We really need to ensure that hospitals are able to remain nimble and flexible, to flex up or flex down based on what’s happening in their hospital. What are the individual needs of patient care and patients on a unit, and what is happening across the community so that we can flex, respond and support one another as we take care of the needs of the overall region,” Hackenbracht said.
The bill does allow temporary exceptions to the staffing the standards, including state of emergencies and ER diversions.