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Lt. Gov. Quinn Backs Patient Care Reforms

Coalition Launched to Lobby for Improved Nurse Staffing in Hospitals

CHICAGO, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn announced his support for state legislation that would increase the number of nurses at the bedside in Illinois hospitals. Speaking at a press conference called by the RN2RN Network, a statewide organization of nurses, Quinn called on Illinois lawmakers to take action to protect patients.

"Given estimates that medical errors cause as many as 195,000 deaths a year, it's clear we have a crisis. Improving nurse staffing will help reduce medical errors, resulting in fewer patient deaths, reduced complications and shorter hospital stays," stated Quinn. "That's why I'm urging lawmakers to pass safe nurse staffing legislation in order to ensure that every hospital in Illinois is adequately staffed and patients get the nursing care they need."

The RN2RN Network has coordinated lobbying for House Bill 392, sponsored by State Representative Mary Flowers (D-31), which sets minimum safe nurse staffing levels. The Network, along with Citizen Action/Illinois, the Champaign County Health Care Consumers and Women Employed, also announced the launch of the Coalition for Safe Patient Care. The Coalition will bring together citizen groups, elected officials, patient advocates and physicians to work for passage of the safe nurse staffing bill.

"Next January we will be back in Springfield with more nurses, patients, health care reform advocates and enlightened elected leaders like Pat Quinn," said Tina DeVito, spokesperson for the R2N2Network. "I'm confident that working together, we will be able to make the case for better nurse staffing."

"Patient safety has long been a concern of mine. That's why I've sponsored nurse staffing legislation and why I will continue to sponsor this legislation until we win this important reform," said State Representative Mary Flowers.

Dr. Quentin Young, a nationally-recognized advocate for health care reform, cited the abundance of medical research linking inadequate nurse staffing with poor patient outcomes in announcing his support for the legislation. He also pointed out that by setting minimum safe staffing levels, this legislation would prevent hospitals from competing to lower costs by making staff cuts that put patients at risk.

"In our current system, hospitals are budget driven and many cut nurse staffing to reduce costs," stated Young. "The state must protect patients by setting safe nurse staffing levels."

Citizen Action/Illinois co-director William McNary announced that the Coalition for Safe Patient Care has established a hotline (800/899-9728) and website ( for patients to report their experiences and intends to communicate those experiences to legislators, policymakers and the hospital industry.

"We believe that patients' voices also must be heard on this critical issue. Research studies are important but hearing directly from patients and their loved ones will drive the point home for many lawmakers" stated McNary.

Fr. Dominic Grassi, the pastor of St. Gertrude's Catholic Church in Chicago, spoke of his recent experiences as a patient.

"I was fortunate because my brothers stayed with me much of the time, but despite that I was almost given the wrong medication by an overworked nurse and had to wait almost two hours for assistance to get up and use the bathroom," said Grassi. "What happens to those patients who don't have someone who can stay with them?"

The RN2RN Network is an organization of hundreds of nurses from around the state committed to work for safe nurse staffing legislation. It was initiated by nurses from Resurrection Health Care working through HEART/AFSCME to bring together nurses seeking ways to improve nurse staffing and patient outcomes.

Speakers at the press conference included:

-- Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn

-- Tina DeVito, RN2RN Network

-- State Representative Mary Flowers

-- Quentin Young, MD

-- Fr. Dominic Grassi, patient

-- William McNary, Citizen Action

-- Melissa Josephs, Women Employed

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