SPRINGFIELD Ill. – To help restore the 124 correctional nursing jobs threatened by the governor’s administration, state Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Smithton, passed legislation on Thursday that would prevent the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) from implementing nursing layoffs located at 12 correctional centers across the state.
“These nurses have not only devoted their lives to improving people’s health, but have also taken on the responsibility of working in a challenging environment,” Costello said. “Losing these nurses’ positions not only hurts them and their families, but forces other medical and correctional staff to pick up the slack in areas where prisons are already short staffed.”
In March, IDOC notified the Illinois Nurses Association that they intended to lay off over 100 nurses across the state and then rehire them or fill the positions through a private subcontractor with a long history of federal and state lawsuits for medical negligence. Costello’s legislation, Senate Bill 19, would prevent IDOC from reducing the number of medical and mental health employees. The bill also prevents the IDOC from entering into a new medical contract to replace the current employees.
“It is fundamentally unfair to tell registered nurses in the Illinois Department of Corrections they are going to be fired, but they can come back to work and do the exact same job for less pay and no pension,” said Alice Johnson, Executive Director, Illinois Nurses Association. “These nurses have dedicated their careers to providing patient care in an extremely difficult setting. Their knowledge and loyalty are assets to the department and to the people of Illinois. Smart employers are competing for experienced registered nurses, not laying them off. Ultimately, cutting quality health care staff does not save money, as cuts diminish the quality of care, and that leads to lawsuits against the state.”
“To replace these nurses with a contracted company that has a history of legal suits for medical negligence could end up costing millions of taxpayer’s dollars in settlements,” Costello said. “Our focus in Illinois must be on investing in our communities and families, not eliminating their employment.”
State Rep. Jerry Costello II represents Illinois’ 116th district, which includes all or parts of St. Clair, Randolph, Monroe, and Perry Counties. His office can be reached by phone at 618-282-7284 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.