Thousands face delays in Ohio nursing license renewal

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New Ohio resident Jamey Strawbridge has 16 years nursing experience in California, Florida, Alabama and Tennessee.

When Strawbridge moved to the Dayton area, he applied for an Ohio nursing license. More than a month later, Strawbridge has no license – permanent or temporary.

In order to pay his bills, Strawbridge recently started two jobs far from his nursing training: security and managing a pizza restaurant.

“You said that all that I needed was these three items to prove that I'm a nurse and my temporary license could be issued. It doesn't make sense. Why do I have to wait a month?” asked Strawbridge of the Ohio Nursing Board.

Strawbridge is one of hundreds of nurses taking to the Ohio Board of Nursing Facebook page to complain about recent delays in obtaining licenses to practice.

In January, the Ohio Board of Nursing announced they were switching to their new eLicense system.

Throughout the summer, nurses have complained that their online applications for mandatory license renewal simply don't work, often due to errors with taking in social security numbers or full names.

Two nurses from Cincinnati told 10 Investigates the only way they could do their license renewal correctly was in person at the downtown Columbus office.

Many nurses complained about the lack of help, so 10TV called the nursing board phone number at 614-466-3947 to see what they were experiencing. No phone option gave us the chance to talk to a person, only to leave a message.

The nursing board says 11,000 nurses have successfully renewed their licenses this year. But that's only one-fifth of the nearly 58,000 Ohio nurses needing renewal.

The Ohio Nursing Board declined an interview. They did not announce at timeline for a fix, instead, releasing a statement reading:

Dear Mr. Baca:
Thank you for contacting the Board of Nursing and for offering us the chance to participate in an interview. We respectfully decline the interview offer and again refer you to the contact person at the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.

The State of Ohio is in the process of rolling out a new eLicense system for many state Boards and Commissions. The State is working to resolve the technical issues as quickly as possible.

The Board realizes that numerous licensees are experiencing various types of issues with the implementation of the new Ohio 3.0 eLicense system. The Board and the Ohio Department of Administrative Services are working diligently to resolve the technical issues so that we may provide the public the needed services. The Board has a very high volume of calls and emails, and have reassigned staff to help respond. It has been difficult to respond as quickly as we would like and we apologize for the delays.

The Board began communicating with licensees in the spring of this year and currently has implemented a plan to increase communications with licensees and applicants. Additional staff time is being dedicated to returning calls and emails and temporary staff are assisting also. Board staff are working overtime to process applications, return calls and respond to emails.

Currently over 11,000 nurses have successfully renewed their licenses, about 19 percent. The nurses who are required to renew have until October 31, 2016 to complete the process. For others applying for licensure, the Board is processing the applications, identifying the technical changes in the system, and working with State IT to expedite the processing.

The State IT office is working to resolve the issues resolved in a timely manner, and the Board is committed to processing applications and responding as quickly as possible.

Yours truly,

Betsy Houchen
Executive Director

The Ohio Board of Nursing says it’s up to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to fix this.

DAS also declined our request for an interview writing, "The State of Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) recently launched a new license system, Ohio eLicense 3.0. The Board of Nursing licensing process has been affected by system issues that DAS is working to resolve."

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