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Message to Staff: Information About Staffing for Safe Patient Care

September 17, 2020

Dear Colleagues—

We have heard many comments and questions in recent days about safe staffing as the hospital continues discussions with our valued nursing colleagues for a new contract. Nurses are critical team members in a highly functional hospital system. As part of staying informed in matters related to our patient care, we want to provide some details to the medical staff as to the staffing issues in discussion.

At the core of what our nurses are asking for are mandated nurse staffing ratios as a mechanism to ensure safety. The hospital agrees that safe patient care is paramount and is advocating a model that balances patient acuity with flexible staffing ratios as a central tenet.

Both models set maximum limits on the number of patients assigned to a nurse; however, medical literature and best practices promoted by other nursing unions, medical societies, and the vast majority of Magnet hospitals demonstrate that data-driven, acuity-based staffing improves patient outcomes, as well as patient and staff satisfaction. Attached is further information about staffing and an important professional society perspective.

As a result of this evidence, we are committed to “the right care, at the right time, from the right nurse, at the right place.” Since UI Health has already worked historically with our nursing colleagues to develop our existing acuity-based staffing, we hope that we can continue to perfect a system already proven to work exceedingly well when optimized. This is most consistent with the mission of our academic medical center: To advance healthcare to improve the health of our patients and communities, promote health equity, and develop the next generations of healthcare leaders. We believe acuity-based staffing aligns with our mission.

As healthcare practitioners, we are all committed to making the best possible decisions for our patients. If you have questions about safe staffing, please contact us.

Attachments: Staffing for Safe Care Fact Sheet, Letter from Illinois College of Emergency Physicians


Terry Vanden Hoek, MD, FACP
Chief Medical Officer — UI Health

Susan Bleasdale, MD, FACP, FIDSA
Acting Chief Quality Officer — UI Health

Mark Rosenblatt, MD, PhD, MBA
Executive Dean — University of Illinois College of Medicine