Illinois Nurses Association: Illinois Sticks Up for Healthcare Workers; HB 399 Passes Both Houses


Date : Wednesday - June 01, 2005

To: State Desk

Contact: Tom Renkes, 312-419-2900 ext. 229, Lisa DeVries, 312-419-2900 ext. 233, both of the Illinois Nurses Association

CHICAGO, June 1 /U.S. Newswire/ -- HB 399 (healthcare workplace violence prevention) passes both Houses on May 30, 2005. The Governor is expected to sign the bill into law later this summer.

HB 399 calls for the Illinois Department of Health Services and Illinois Department of Public Health to implement the Healthcare Setting Violence Prevention Act initially as a two- year pilot project in which five facilities will participate. The participating facilities include: the Chester Mental Health Center, the Alton Mental Health Center, the Douglas Singer Mental Health Center, the Andrew McFarland Mental Health Center, and the Jacksonville Developmental Center. The passage of HB 399:

-- Requires the participating facilities to provide violence prevention training by July 1, 2006, and to adopt and implement a workplace violence prevention plan and begin keeping a record of violent acts by July 1, 2007.

-- Requires facilities not participating in the pilot project to adopt and implement a workplace violence prevention plan by July 1, 2008, provide violence prevention training by July 1, 2009, and begin keeping a record of violent acts by July 1, 2008.

-- Requires the Governor to convene a task force to evaluate the pilot project and make a report to the General Assembly by Jan. 1, 2008.

As a result of several reported attacks on nurses by patients at mental health facilities within recent months, the Illinois Nurses Association proactively campaigned and lobbied on behalf of the nurses' rights to a reasonably safe and secure work place. "This bill has been the goal of the RC-23 nurses since 1999 when Mary Grimes, a Registered Nurse was critically injured by a former patient at Zeller Mental Health Center. State Representative Lou Lang has worked with this group of nurses since that date to make this bill a reality. This bill is the first step in providing the necessary training and safeguards for assuring the safety of patients, visitors and health care employees within healthcare settings," says Debbi Reed, RN, INA's Assistant Program Director.

Additionally, like the recently passed bill on mandatory overtime (SB 201), HB 399 takes another important step towards retaining and recruiting nurses back to the work force. "Without HB 399, future nurses may have opted for an alternate, 'safer' career path thus further inflating the current shortage of quality, professional nurses," adds Tom Renkes, INA's Executive Director. "This bill protects not just our nurses today, but the nursing profession as a whole."

The Illinois Nurses Association (INA), a constituent member of the American Nurses Association and the United American Nurses, AFL-CIO, is the largest professional organization representing registered nurses throughout Illinois. The INA is dedicated to advancing the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the legislature and regulatory agencies on healthcare issues affecting nurses and the public.