Colorado requires hospitals to establish nurse staffing committees

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law May 18 that requires hospitals to establish a nurse staffing committee by Sept. 1.

The staffing committee must "create, implement and evaluate a nurse staffing plan and … receive, track and resolve complaints and receive feedback from direct care nurses and other staff," according to the bill summary.

The legislation also requires hospitals to annually submit the nurse staffing plan to the state and post the plan on the hospital's website.

Under the bill, hospitals must report the baseline number of beds the hospital is able to staff as well as the hospital's current bed capacity by Sept. 1.

If the hospital's ability to meet staffed bed capacity falls below 80 percent of the required baseline in a specified period, the hospital must inform the state and submit a plan to meet that requirement, according to the bill summary.

Per the bill, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment may fine a hospital up to $10,000 daily if the facility does not meet the required staffed bed capacity.

"This bill ensures our hospitals are prepared and our nursing workforce is supported in order to respond to emergencies so that a lack of staffed bed capacity doesn't threaten the state economy," Mr. Polis wrote in a May 18 letter to lawmakers about signing the legislation. "The Polis-Primavera administration is focused on saving people money on healthcare and improving access to care across the state. Maintaining access to hospital care throughout the state, and especially in small, rural and frontier areas is crucial to furthering this goal."

Still, the letter from Mr. Polis indicated that no fees will be levied against noncompliant hospitals in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

He also asked the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment "to direct the State Board of Health to ideally not implement fees, or at least minimize fees to a negligible amount and avoid fines in particular on small, rural and frontier hospitals."

Additionally, he said "it is the administration's intent that [fees] be avoided or minimized to the extent required for hospital preparedness and safety, and if they ever occur, should be levied equitably among hospitals."

Read more about the bill here

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