Rapp: Bill for patient-staff ratios won’t leave committee

Legislation that proposes staffing ratios for nurses in hospitals will not be getting out of the state Health Committee.

That committee is chaired by Warren County’s representative, Kathy Rapp, and she discussed the legislation last week during a hearing conducted to hear testimony on the status of health care in rural Pennsylvania.

Legislators received testimony from several health care administrators including Warren General Hospital CEO Rick Allen.

“This is something that would not benefit small and rural hospitals,” Allen told the hearing, arguing that management has to have the opportunity to assign patients based on acuity, or the severity of a patient’s condition.

“We need the ability to operate our organization,” he added, saying that mandated ratios would be “detrimental to our ability to operate the hospital” as well as add expense.

“This is a bill that I cannot in good conscience support,” Rapp said. “In my mind, this is a contractual issue. I don’t believe legislators should really get involved with contractual issues.”

She said she is “very thankful” for the hospitals across the state and the dedication shown by doctors and nurses, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I do not believe that legislators, who are not on the front lines, have a real idea what goes on every day in the hospital,” she continued, “and I believe that is best left to the administration of the hospital and the staff that work there.”

She acknowledged the numerous signs that have been placed throughout the community urging her action on this bill.

“I believe that would be very irresponsible for us to pass that legislation,” Rapp said, “and I believe that it best left to the hospitals and the (staff) themselves to work out those agreements.”

Rapp said the legislation “unless moved elsewhere is not going to be passed in the Health Committee” this session, which runs through the end of the year.


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