The challenges facing President Barack Obama and Congress are tremendous, but Americans are making it clear they want healthcare to be a high priority on the national agenda.
In a national survey released Jan. 15 by Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 43% of respondents said they view reforming healthcare as a top concern, ranking it third behind improving the economy at 73% and fighting terrorism at 48%. We asked nurse leaders from the Florida region how they would advise the new president to improve the U.S. healthcare system.
What healthcare issue do you think the Obama administration should address first in 2009?
Baptist Hospital of MiamiBecky Montesino, RN
Barack Obama plans to create a national healthcare system. To achieve this goal, the first thing President Obama will need to do is begin implementation of one national electronic health information system. The majority of medical records are currently paper-based, which makes it nearly impossible to reach the other goals that are part of the Obama healthcare plan.
— Becky Montesino, RN, Vice President, CNO
Florida Hospital, OrlandoConnie Hamilton, RN
President Obama should focus on the quality and safety healthcare movement to meet the needs of the chronic and acutely ill. The nurse’s role is pivotal in serving a community of complex multisystem aging patients, the growing volume of chronic diseases, and children. Preparing a future nursing workforce will require support with education and training to keep pace with technology and research development in healthcare. In addition, he should support research on the more effective use of nurses.
— Connie Hamilton, RN, Sr. Patient Care Officer
Holy Cross Hospital, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.Nora Triola, RN
Several hundred thousand open RN positions exst across America. This shortage will worsen. Thousands of qualified students are denied acceptance due to a faculty shortage. Increased faculty funding should be the initial step, as delaying will only exacerbate the mismatch between supply and demand.
— Nora Triola, RN, PhD, NEA-BC, Sr. VP, CNO
Lakeland (Fla.) Regional Medical CenterJanet Fansler, RN
A focus for the Obama administration should be working toward a rational system of funding for healthcare. Healthcare in this country is subsidized by those with insurance. Attempts to balance budgets through cuts to health-related programs shifts additional costs to the private sector. Addressing funding for the uninsured would have a huge impact.
— Janet Fansler, RN, MS, CENP, VP, CNO
Manatee Memorial Hospital, Bradenton, Fla.Chris Malloy, RN
From the nursing perspective, the No. 1 priority is to ensure that we always have enough qualified nurses to care for our patients. The need to continue to collaborate with the colleges and universities to advance nursing practice is of paramount importance. Nurses today need to have a broad body of knowledge to meet the ever-changing conditions of patients, manage emerging technologies, and adapt to complicated economic times. President Obama needs to ensure there is enough funding to produce the type of nurses needed now and in the future.
— Chris Malloy, RN, MS, MSN, CNO
Memorial Hospital Miramar (Fla.)Leah Carpenter, RN
President Obama must focus on executing a plan that will stimulate the economy and increase employment rates, improve the quality of healthcare coverage and its affordability and accessibility, and prohibit misuse of power and funding by healthcare organizations and corporations, while simultaneously rewarding those that perform exemplarily.
— Leah Carpenter, RN, CNO
Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Fla.Mary Beth Reardon, RN
I would like to see President Obama work with Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, to pass the comprehensive cancer legislation they are developing. The bill supports making a greater investment in cancer research, places an emphasis on early detection, and will improve access to cancer care for underserved populations.
— Mary Beth Reardon, RN, MS, OCN, NEA-BC, VP Patient Care Services, CNO
W. Boca (Fla.) Medical CenterRuth Schwarzkopf, RN
I would have to say access to affordable care is probably the No. 1 issue. People avoid seeking treatment, which results in preventable or controllable illness becoming much more expensive to treat. They might also try to diagnose and treat themselves or use emergency departments as primary-care providers. None of those options are in their best interests.
— Ruth Schwarzkopf, RN, CNO
Broward General Medical Center, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The Obama administration should keep healthcare as a priority as we negotiate for financial resources. It’s an exciting and optimistic time.
— Cindy Boily, RN, MSN, CNO