The Ohio Nurses Association (ONA) was joined by State Representative, Haraz Ghanbari Wednesday morning to announce legislation to address nurse staffing issues in Ohio hospitals.

The Nurse Workforce & Safe Patient Care Act would establish legally enforceable minimum staffing standards for nurses in Ohio hospitals, as well as create a $20 million loan-to-grant program for nurses who work in Ohio for five years post-graduation. Nurses would also be eligible for $3,000 a year for up to four years, totaling $12,000. 

The loan-to-grant program will be for nurses who complete five years of nursing services in Ohio either at the bedside or nurse education. 

The legislation would also establish safe staffing standards in every Ohio hospital, preserve nurse staffing commissions giving them meaningful representation in establishing safe staffing levels, allow for temporary deviations from safe staffing ratios in extraordinary circumstances and create a report system for anyone to file a complaint against a hospital for inadequate staffing.

According to a press release from ONA, hospitals in Ohio are in crisis and in dire need of reform.

"Ohio nurses and frontline healthcare workers are burned out, exhausted and subjected to moral injury associated with untenable workloads and unsafe levels of staffing in Ohio hospitals. This crisis has led to an acute exodus from nursing jobs in our state," the release reads.

Additionally, ONA revealed results of a statewide nursing survey, which shows that seven out of 10 direct care nurses are considering leaving bedside nursing due to the current working conditions.

The results also revealed that 88.79% of direct care nurses say nurse-to-patient ratios in Ohio would increase their likelihood of staying in a direct care role, 58.05% of nurses who have already left cited patient care load as a factor and 42.80% would consider returning to or pursuing bedside nursing if minimum staffing standards were passed.

“Inadequate nurse staffing levels are linked to higher rates of patient falls, infections, medication errors and even death. The bill we introduced today is a big step in the right direction to help address patient and nurse safety,” said State Representative, Elgin Rogers.

ONA Vice President Rick Lucas, believes this bill is essential to patient care and the well being of Ohio nurses.

"Patients come to the hospital for nursing care and they deserve to have enough staff to meet their needs. So, when those needs are not met, that means increased mortality for patients," Lucas told 21 News reporter Leslie Huff.

In released a statement from the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) obtained by 21 News, the association said they are committed to ensuring safe staffing for their nurses, but voiced skepticism of the bill. Below is the full statement from OHA.

"Ohio hospitals are committed to safe staffing to ensure quality care and optimal patient experience is delivered to patients. Per Ohio law, Ohio hospitals develop nursing service staffing plans by organizing internal committees of caregivers, including nurses, to make recommendations for staffing levels that provide both a safe working environment for employees and quality health care for patients. Hospitals and health systems continue to work together to build healthy practice environments, advance patient safety, affordability and enhance value by transforming health care delivery. Mandated approaches to nurse staffing limit innovation, reduce the flexibility needed to respond to patients’ changing care needs and increase stress on a health care system already facing an escalating shortage of nurses."