DENVER (KDVR) — It is crunch time for lawmakers at the Capitol as there Is less than a week left in this year’s session.
House members spent a significant portion of their Thursday morning getting one bill passed that looks to make sure one group pushed to the brink during the pandemic never goes through those dark days again.
A representative who knows firsthand how exhausted hospital crews were during the pandemic sponsored the measure to make sure hospitals keep their facilities adequately staffed. Some lawmakers say the measure is a one-size-fits-all solution that doesn’t account for small hospitals.
The measure will require every hospital in the state to establish a nurse staffing committee.
That committee will have to create a staffing plan and they will have to have that plan submitted to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The committee would need to be established by Sept. 1 of this year — a quick turnaround, but bill sponsor and emergency room nurse Rep. Kyle Mullica, D-Adams, said hospitals can handle it.
“We’ve laid the foundation with some rule-making already at CDPHE. So a lot of these hospitals are already creating these nursing committees,” Mullica said. “We just want to make sure those nurses and healthcare workers have a voice there, and we are looking at what staffing truly looks like and metrics on individual unit levels, and that’s what this bill is calling for.”
After the nursing committee submits the plan, their hospital would have to post the plan on its website and evaluate it quarterly based on staff and patient recommendations.
The hospitals would also have to report their bed capacity, needing to have at least 80% of their beds staffed. If they fail to meet requirements, they would face fines up to $10,000 per day, a stipulation some lawmakers said would burden smaller facilities.
“These fines will kill small, rural hospitals. I look at this as another attack on rural Colorado, widening the rural and urban divide. I vote no on this bill,” said Minority Whip Rod Pelton, who represents counties on the Eastern Plains in District 65.
House Republicans presented a motion to hold the bill until next week, asking for more time for rural hospitals to negotiate. That attempt failed and the bill is now moves on to the Senate.