Nebraska hospitals work to fill nursing positions after failed legislation

The NHA proposed four bills last legislative session. Only one passed.
Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 5:54 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - During the last legislative session, the Nebraska Hospital Association introduced four bills to help retain and recruit nurses. Only one passed.

The NHA said they are disappointed with the lack of progress and now, the effort to keep current nurses in the profession, while also hiring more, is up to hospitals alone.

The bill that was passed, LB 1091, was approved as an amendment to give $2,500 to students going into nursing at Nebraska community colleges.

“Anybody who wants to go in to be a CNA, a certified nursing aid, an LPN, a licensed practical nurse or an associates degree in nursing, so all nursing professions below bachelors level, any of those programs can be completed within a two year period,” said NHA’s president, Jeremy Nordquist.

The other bills that did not pass would have provided cash bonuses for current nurses, grants for innovative patient care and created state programs for future health care professionals.

“We’re kind of left now with hospitals doing the best that they can with the resources they have available and those resources unfortunately, are being squeezed by added cost pressures,” Nordquist said. “Just the cost of staffing itself is up a lot.”

Bryan Health has already come up with options. They’re offering $4,000 retention bonuses, student loan repayment, tuition reimbursement, and premium pay for employees working over 40 hours a week.

The dean of undergraduate nursing at Bryan College of Health Sciences, Theresa Delahoyde, said all 54 May graduates from the Bryan College of Health Sciences have secured jobs in the field.

“They are getting jobs without any problem whatsoever, so they’re able to fill in to any of these open spots that facilities have,” Delahoyde said.

The NHA said with lack of action, the nursing shortage is only going to get worse. They expect the state to need more than 5,400 more nurses by 2025.

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