Ohio Nurses Concerned About Moves to Limit Dr. Acton’s Authority

“Time and time again we have heard Governor DeWine wisely state the need to bring in the experts, and listen to these experts, with every facet of this pandemic. That includes the re-opening workgroups and economic advisory committees, as well as the healthcare experts using data-driven approaches with the director of the Department of Health, Dr. Acton, leading the charge.

Since its inception in 1886, the Department of Health has had the authority to issue orders to curb the spread of infectious disease. Per the Ohio Revised Code, the director must be a medical doctor or have substantial public health experience to fill this role.

Now, certain members of the Ohio General Assembly want to trade data-driven expert opinions and centuries-old authority for more control. This control would leave the decision to extend 14-day orders from the Ohio Department of Health to members of JCARR – a committee of legislators currently tasked with reviewing agency rules with no medical or public health experienced members or a capacity to swiftly evaluate the health needs of the 11.7 million Ohioans.

The Ohio Nurses Association strongly supports the work of Dr. Acton. It is abundantly clear to Ohio’s nurses that her swift and nation-leading actions have saved lives, including lives of healthcare workers. Her measures to not overwhelm the healthcare system means healthcare workers were not faced with the horrible decision of triaging who lives and who dies. Ask any nurse – this concern was not overblown as some legislators have stated. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the ONA points to 70% of respondents of the over 2,000 nurses surveyed having concerns about the re-opening of Ohio. 70% of those respondents are still experiencing the effects of PPE shortages, putting their health at risk.

Dr. Acton is responsible for the health for 11.7 million Ohioans and Ohio nurses applaud her non-partisan approach to caring for each of those lives. Dr. Acton’s work to mitigate the spread COVID-19 has been nothing short of incredible. “ – Deborah Arms, PhD, RN, President of the Ohio Nurses Association.