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Bill introduced to reimburse nurses



Published: Fri, July 27, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The proposal has the support of the Ohio registered nurses' professional association.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Registered nurses would receive college tuition reimbursements if they work at an Ohio hospital after graduation, under a bill introduced by state Rep. Anthony A. Latell Jr.

Those who complete two years of full-time employment in an Ohio hospital would be reimbursed for their first year of instructional costs for college.

After three years of full-time employment, they would be reimbursed for the second year of college costs and so on, with a maximum reimbursement of five years of college after six years at an Ohio hospital.

"The shortage of nurses in the state is going to continue to be a problem," said Latell of Girard, D-67th. "If this bill is passed, we'd be encouraging more people to get into nursing. It is my hope that we can circumvent a health care crisis by encouraging students who choose a nursing career to stay in Ohio and serve in Ohio hospitals."

Cost: Latell doesn't know the cost of such a plan, but it will save money in the long run, he said.

Latell points to the recent 81-day strike of Forum Health facilities by Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association as a prime example of what happens when there is a nursing shortage.

The shortage was cited by the union and Forum Health management as a major cause for the walkout because it forced management to use mandatory overtime to keep staffing at safe levels.

Latell's bill was introduced Thursday in the House and will be referred to a committee for hearings. Even though he is in the minority party, Latell said he is confident the bill will receive fair consideration from the Republican-controlled House.

Support: The Ohio Nurses Association, which represents nearly 134,000 registered nurses in the state, supports Latell's plan. About 60 percent of the state's registered nurses work in hospitals.

"I think it's a fabulous idea," said Peggy Noble, the association's government affairs specialist. "What I like about this proposal is it's for hospital nurses. He's targeting exactly where the shortage is." It would be a great recruitment tool for nurses, she added.

State Rep. John Boccieri of New Middletown, D-57th, introduced legislation earlier this month to attract more nurses to hospitals.

His plan would exempt the salaries of full-time nurses from the state income tax for five years if they work at hospitals.

skolnick@vindy.com




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