SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Nursing staff at licensed Illinois hospitals must now be proactively informed of their legal rights under an important worker and patient protection law after legislation passed by state Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, became law last week.
“For too long, and increasingly throughout the pandemic, we saw that some for-profit hospitals were cutting corners by implementing insufficient and unsafe staffing levels and staff-patient ratios, especially when it came to nursing staff, in order to reduce costs. That’s why we passed legislation to give concerned nurses the power to hold hospitals and administrators accountable,” Crespo said. “But a workplace law is only effective if people are aware of it and of what it does. We took action this year because we were seeing that too many nursing staff didn’t know about the law.”
The Nurse Staffing Improvement Act was passed and became law in 2021. It requires that there be a way for nurses to report variations from established staffing plans and a process to review and address such reports; and prohibits retaliation against nurses who make reports. It also authorizes the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to enforce compliance—including by requiring hospitals to submit a corrective action plan, imposing fines of up to $1,000 and by publicly disclosing violations.
Crespo passed House Bill 3890 this year, which requires licensed hospitals to proactively notify their nursing staff of the Nurse Staffing Improvement Act and its provisions and provide a phone number and an email where nurses can report violations of the Act. The new notification requirements will also be enforced by IDPH. Crespo’s bill was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on June 30 and went into effect immediately.
“Safe and sufficient staffing levels are not only important for ensuring that hospitals are safe and that every patient is getting the high-quality care they deserve, but they are also important for the safety and wellbeing of Illinois dedicated and indispensable nurses and other hospital staff,” Crespo said. “That’s why we’re making sure that no hospital can skirt the law by keeping its staff in the dark. Illinois’ nurses go above and beyond every single day to take care of us, so it’s important that we take care of them in return.”
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