May. 11, 2015

HARRISBURG – In an effort to help strengthen the state’s role in health care across the state, Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) has secured House approval of legislation she has sponsored to establish a chief nursing officer for the Commonwealth.

House Bill 389 would fill a void in the state Department of Health and would be modeled from the role of the state’s physician general.

“Nurses play an integral role within health care, many times being the first point of contact a patient has in a clinic, emergency room, hospital or physician’s office,” Oberlander said. “This experience, along with their training and education, give nurses a valuable insight into health care, and we should welcome their perspectives within the development of health care policy.”

Registered nurses comprise the largest segment of licensed professionals in Pennsylvania.

Under Oberlander’s legislation, a chief nursing officer would be responsible for:

•    Advising the governor and the secretary of Health on health policy.
•    Participating in the decision-making process of the department on policies relating to all nursing and public health.
•    Reviewing professional standards and practices in nursing and public health.
•    Consulting with recognized experts on nursing and public health matters.
•    Offering advice on nursing and public health.
•    Coordinating educational, informational and other programs for the promotion of wellness, public health and related nursing issues in this Commonwealth, and serving as the primary advocate for these programs.
•    Consulting with experts in this Commonwealth and other states regarding health care research, innovation and development which relate to programs and issues of importance to the department and the Commonwealth.
“With the increased demands in health care, it only makes sense to have a chief nursing officer within our state, and I’m pleased my colleagues have agreed on the need to establish this position,” Oberlander said.

The legislation now moves to the state Senate for consideration.

Representative Donna Oberlander
63rd District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact:  Jennifer Keaton /