An Anaheim assemblyman introduced legislation Wednesday aimed at helping ease the county's nursing shortage, estimated at 900 vacancies.
"We need this program," said Jon Gilwee, spokesman for Healthcare Assn. of Southern California, a hospital trade group in Orange County. "On any given day, hospitals with a 15% to 18% nurse vacancy rate is not unusual."
AB 338, coauthored by Assemblyman Lou Correa (D-Anaheim), will provide $4 million to pay for more academic nursing programs at the state universities and community colleges in the county.
"Right now, we have almost 1,000 students on the wait list throughout the county who want to be nurses," Correa said.
His bill will fund a two-year pilot project for more classrooms and teachers in nursing education. The program already has the backing of 23 hospitals in the county, Gilwee said.
The state will provide half the money. The remainder must be raised by area hospitals as part of a public-private partnership.
The legislation has its roots in a hearing last year on the county's nursing shortage by former Assemblyman Martin Gallegos (D-Baldwin Park), then chairman of the Assembly Health Committee. The hearing was held at Correa's request.