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 area nurses 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?
Id love to see one uniform healthcare system in this nation instead of different companies. Now people have to jump through hoops to be seen by specialists, and some HMOs wont cover certain things. Also, everybody with pre-existing conditions should be insured, and everyone who doesnt have insurance should have it.
Joann Heim, RN, Central Scheduling Nurse, Children’s Memorial Hospital, ChicagoKandice Vancura, RN
I agree with Marj, and in addition, we need to see more nurses as well as nurse educators. There needs to be funding allocated specifically for the nurse loan repayment and scholarship program. There is also a shortage of nursing educators, so that needs to be addressed.
Kandice Vancura, RN, CCRN, Float Pool NurseAdvocate Good Samaritan Hospital, Downers Grove, Ill.Kelli A. Kaczynski, RN
The economy, because it creates a vicious cycle for healthcare. Patients and hospitals are impacted when patients choose to spend their limited income on food, housing, or other necessities instead of prescribed medications and other treatments resulting in unnecessary ER visits.
Kelli A. Kaczynski, RN, BSN,Rush-Copley Medical Center, Aurora, Ill.Angie Pojas, RN
Equitable health insurance because healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
Angie Pojas, RN,Resurrection Saint Francis Hospital, Evanston, Ill.
The Obama administration must immediately work to ensure that people have adequate access to prescription drugs. The uninsured and underinsured need the governments help to lower prices. When discharged, too many patients end up guessing which medications to take because they cant afford to buy all those prescribed to them. Making pharmaceuticals more financially accessible will prevent many people from getting long-term, more expensive health problems the country will end up paying for anyway.
Michelle Akan, RN, Staff Nurse,Weiss Memorial Hospital, Chicago
The first priority that must be addressed is access to care. To achieve a health plan that provides equivalent benefits across the age spectrum, Obama will need to address who will pay for healthcare and how Americans approach the painful issue of resource allocation. I dont see effective change happening until foundational issues are addressed.
Sheryl Brown, RN, CCRN, Clinical Coordinator of the SICU,NorthShore University HealthSystem, Evanston, Ill.
I would like Obama to address the nursing shortage in the United States. The shortage will continue to increase as experienced nurses retire and fewer nurses enter and/or remain in nursing. It should be a national priority to develop and support nursing programs to ensure exceptional nursing care continues to be available to future generations. Secondly, I would like him to mandate electronic health records to eliminate errors, reduce expensive and redundant tests, and improve communication among healthcare workers and patients. Thirdly, I would like to see him work to address the concerns many Americans have about accessing and paying for healthcare for themselves and their families.
Kathleen Needham-Howard, RN, Staff Nurse, Northwest Community Hospital, Arlington Heights, Ill.