For years, people with mobility disabilities, as well as their family members and assistants and attending medical staff, have sustained physical and psychological injuries and have been deterred from access to quality health care because of the absence of hospital policies requiring training of personnel in safe lifting techniques and assuring that patients are informed of, and have a voice in, lifting and transfer options. To address this issue, Access Living and others together developed legislation that set forth common definitions and minimum requirements for hospitals to control the risk of injury to patients and staff. The legislation developed, Public Act 97-0122, was signed by Governor Quinn last year and became effective on January 1, 2012.
While the legislation offered protection to hospital patients, nursing homes remained an area of need. A lack of policy and protections in nursing home subjected residents to the same threats from which hospital patients are protected. This year, Access Living collaborated again with the Illinois Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, this time on legislation that would extend those protections to nursing home residents. The outcome of this collaboration was Public Act 097-0866. The new law extends the same protections as Public Act 97-0122 to nursing home residents and includes more detailed provisions on the training of personnel. With unanimous support, the Nursing Home Bill passed both the State Senate and the House earlier this year. On July 30, Governor Quinn signed the bill into law.
Congratulations to everyone who worked on passage of the bill, and congratulations to nursing home residents, who will now have better quality and safer access to health care services.