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Senator McCann passes legislation to protect prison nurses

SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois State Senate advanced legislation that would prevent corrections nurses from losing their jobs do to private outsourcing. The bill was sponsored by State Sen. Sam McCann (R-Plainview).

“These are extremely hardworking professionals who operate in dangerous environments to heal individuals that many others have given up on,” said Senator McCann. “They deserve our respect, instead of being made into victims of some half-baked outsourcing scheme.”

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) recently sent out layoff notices to 124 correctional center nurses, telling them their positions would be eliminated on June 15. The nurses would be replaced by employees of Wexford Health Sources, Inc., a for-profit, Pittsburgh-based company that currently has a 10-year, $1.36 billion contract. The company has since been sued dozens of times and noted in several audits that found “sweeping problems” in the IDOC medical system.

Senate Bill 19 would block IDOC from bidding contracts that would reduce the number of employees engaged in medical and/or mental health services, as their headcount stood on January 1, 2016. Similar legislation passed with a bipartisan majority during the administration of Governor Quinn, when he similarly moved to outsource and lay off corrections employees.

“IDOC currently is having a hard time filling the nursing positions that are open, so why would we be laying off the nurses we have?” said Senator McCann. “There is also no reason we should be sending taxpayer money out of state when we can put it in the pockets of hardworking Illinois residents who live, work, and pay taxes in the Land of Lincoln.”

Senate Bill 19 passed with a bipartisan majority and is now headed to the Illinois House for consideration in that chamber.

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