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Nursing shortage causing children to stay in hospitals longer than needed

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MOLINE, Illinois – A critical shortage of nurses in Illinois is causing children with lifetime needs to stay in the hospital longer than they need to.

According the Pam Kelly with Preferred Home Healthcare in Galva off 945 S.E. 2nd, there are not enough nurses to go around between hospitals, hospice and in home healthcare.

“Imagine as a grandparent or parent and seeing a child on a tracheotomy and you cannot touch them because they are in an ICU unit and you can't visit them on a daily basis. It’s not right,” said Kelly.

The pediatric population Preferred serves have chronic lifetime needs due to catastrophic events, brain injuries, congenital/birth injuries, syndromes and diseases. They often have tracheotomies, gastrostomies and require specialized equipment to support life and maintain optimal health.

Children who need around the clock care are forced to stay in a long term care facility because there are not enough nurses to take care of them in their own home.

Kelly says a nurse caring for a child inside a hospital costs the state more money than paying them a higher salary to work inside a patient's home.

“These nurses actually go into a child's home because we don't want them stuck in a hospital we want them to go home to their family so they have quality of life,” added Kelly.

Kelly says the state of Illinois’ budget crisis, salary for nurses and lack of education could be to blame for the shortage.

New licensing laws and regulatory barriers in the state could also prevent more nurses from practicing.

According to Illinois Policy, a nurse in Iowa can cross the border to practice in Missouri and vice versa, but cannot practice in Illinois without passing additional regulatory hurdles. Unlike Illinois, both Iowa and Missouri are members of the 25-state Nurse Licensure Compact, which allows nurses to have one multi-state license.

All of Illinois’ neighboring states, except Indiana, participate. And while Illinois does provide a route for nurses from other states to become licensed in Illinois, the process can be time consuming. The extra hurdles make it harder for nurses to come to Illinois, and also reduce the incentives for nurses to become qualified in Illinois knowing that it will be harder to move to other states.

“The need is so desperate that there are hours from Chicago to Davenport. Preferred could offer probably 50 full time jobs to get these kids home but the number of people going into nursing is shrinking. We encourage any certified nurses to apply with us. We want you.” said Kelly.

Total Nurses in Illinois as of February 9, 2017:

Licensed Practical Nurse 29,612

Registered Nurse 183,155

Advanced Practice Nurse 12,227

Advanced Practice Nurse Controlled Substance 7,971

About half of licensed practical nurses​ are expected to retire in the next decade, possibly adding to the shortage.

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