Garrett focuses on health care
The General Assembly has been busy dictating the outcome of several bills that have been proposed for 2011. So far, the General Assembly has voted on matters such as health care, sexual slavery, state-owned liquor stores, transportation, education, the use of GPS spy technologies and synthetic marijuana.
Lynchburg’s representative Del. Dr. T. Scott Garrett’s, R-Lynchburg, bill on hospital staffing was recently defeated 17 to 5, according to the Virginia General Assembly. The bill, HB1466, proposed that at least one registered nurse be present during operations to perform circulator duties, the House of Delegates said.
The bill was proposed in an effort to create safer environments for patients, hoping to reduce the amount of basic mistakes that may occur in an operating room. Circulator duties include “the coordination of all nursing care, patient safety procedures and procedures necessary for the support and safety of the surgical team in the operating room during the surgical procedure,” according to HB 1466.
The bill would have been the first state law to affect hospital staffing.
“The circulator nurse’s job is to focus on the patient and surgical teams issues — to make sure the doctors operate on correct side, site, and to ensure the correct medications and products are used,” Garrett said.
Ultimately, the bill was defeated because most committee members believed that patients undergoing surgery are already safe, as most hospitals require the presence of a registered nurse during an operation, Garrett said.
“It was all about patients’ safety and acknowledging that our nurses are critically important,” Garrett said. “I was really trying to make a strong statement that our nurses matter.”
In addition to HB 1466, Garrett sponsored HB 2453 on Jan. 19. The bill will “require the Commissioner of Health to issue a Request for Applications for, and to authorize the Commissioner to issue a certificate of public need for, the addition of up to 50 nursing facility beds in Planning District 11,” according to HB 2453 on the Virginia Assembly website.
The pending law would help replace an aging retiring home with a new, larger facility in the Lynchburg area.
The bill was introduced at the request of Smith/Packet in Roanoke, Garrett said. Smith/Packet is responsible for operating senior housing developments is several states.
“Right now, there are 1,150 beds in Lynchburg and 92.9 percent of them are taken,” Garrett said.
Grace Lodge Assisted Living began in the mid-1800s before the civil war, Garrett said. The facility is woefully behind the average of patient beds available on its grounds in Virginia. Some rooms house three beds, Garrett said.
“Forty-four nursing home beds isn’t economically feasible,” Garrett said. “You need a minimum of about 90 beds, the average number of beds in Virginia is 113 beds. The Bill would require the Commissioner of Health to
request for applications for, and to authorize the Commissioner to issue a certificate of public need for, the addition of up to 50 nursing facility beds in Planning District 11.”
For more information on the House of Delegates and bill statuses, visit http://legis.state.va.us/.