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Opponents fear fewer jobs for Black nurses if proposed law enacted | Illinois


(The Center Square) – Despite opposition, a bill that creates a Certified Medication Aide program passed both chambers of the Illinois Legislature and awaits the governor’s signature. Opponents fear it could further burden nurses and mean fewer jobs for Black registered nurses.

Senate Bill 1779 seeks to create a “certified medication aide” program. Through the program, qualified individuals will be able to administer medications under the supervision of a registered nurse. The bill has been sent to the governor.

Proponents say it will help address the nurse shortage. State Sen. Don DeWitte, R-St. Charles, inquired about the Illinois Nurses Association’s opposition to the bill sponsored by state Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield.

Ashley Snavely from the Illinois Health Care Association, in a Senate committee, hearing explained the nurses’ opposition.

“They were concerned with liability and the education of the medication administration and how residents may or may not know who they are being treated by,” said Snavely. “She actually proposed House Amendment 3 to address those concerns, and they [the Illinois Nurses Association] believed it didn’t go far enough. So I think it was just at a point where they didn’t come to the table to fully come to an agreement.”

DeWitte pressed Snavely about who the responsibility falls on when it comes to medication administration.

“Nurses will still be responsible for the dispensation of medication in a nursing home environment?” asked DeWitte. “No potential CMA will have the authority to provide medication on their own. Is that correct?”

Snavely verified that only under the delegation of a registered nurse can a CMA administer medications. The discretion is solely in the hands of a registered nurse.

Illinois state Sen. Don DeWitte, R-St. Charles, Ashley Snavely from the Illinois Health Care Association, and state Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield, discuss Senate Bill 1779 impacting the nursing profession with certified medication aids.

In the hearing, proponents pointed out 40 other states in the nation have implemented something like a Certified Medication Aide program. The Illinois Department of Public Health would administer and enforce the program.

Opponents say if enacted the law could mean fewer jobs for Black nurses.

State Sen. Willie Preston, D-Chicago, pointed out the opposition of the Chicago Chapter National Black Nurses Association. Turner said the association felt the medication aids would be taking jobs away from registered nurses.

“Nothing could be further from the truth because they have to work under the supervision of the RNs,” said Turner. “So they’re not taking away their job, they’re actually allowing them more flexibility in their jobs.”

Snavely said the association was concerned about a potential decrease in RNs as a result of Senate Bill 1779 becoming law.

“That’s simply just not true, especially in the skilled nursing world. We have a mandate that at least 25% of licensed nurses have to be in our building and 10% have to be RNs,” said Snavely. “So getting rid of nurses because of this is just not an option for our facilities. The reason why we wanted this is because nurses in long-term care need help. People are not getting medications in time because they are overworked and overstressed. This provides quality care to the residents in the bed.”

Under the proposed law, CMAs cannot administer Schedule II controlled substances, subcutaneous, intramuscular, intradermal or intravenous medication. Medications like Tylenol and blood pressure is something a CMA can administer.

Before applying to become a CMA, an individual needs 2,000 hours of being a CNA and then 60 plus hours of education.

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Caleb Alexander

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