The challenges facing incoming 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 DC/Maryland/Virginia 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?
The Obama administration should give attention to the nursing shortage and educating nurses. To tackle it, the focus should be on faculty and infrastructure. Funds need to be made available for four initiatives – scholarships for nursing students, helping schools of nursing fund projects such as creating simulation laboratories and online-based learning environments, nursing faculty salaries, and for advanced educational opportunities to better prepare faculty at the master’s and doctorate levels.
Maria Koszalka, RN, Ed.D.
Vice president of Patient Care Services
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
One of the first priorities should be to refocus our healthcare system on prevention of disease and health. This would include changing the financial incentives for the payers and providers of care and partnering with the citizens of the United States on health and healthy behaviors.
I would also think a paradigm shift away from our current litigious environment of malpractice which forces practitioners to practice defensive medicine could greatly reduce the cost of healthcare while still assuring patient safety and quality patient outcomes.
Larry Strassner, RN, MS, NEA- BC
Vice President of Patient Care and Chief Nursing Officer
Franklin Square Hospital Center
He’s already made it clear that information technology is going to be an area of extreme interest. That’s absolutely important. Another aspect that cannot go unnoticed is the age of hospitals throughout the country. Institutions are virtually falling apart. I think there needs to be some attention paid to facilities struggling to stay alive and stay up and running.
From a professional nursing perspective, we have an aging nurse population and the shortage is going to hit us square in the nose. We talk about the shortage. But it has not been addressed. There is no viable plan in place, virtually anywhere, to mitigate the projected shortfall.
Joyce Johnson, RN, PhD, NEA-BC, FAAN
Senior VP of Operation/CNO
Georgetown University Hospital
I hold myself accountable to stewarding fiscal resources in such a manner as to promote optimal patient access, appropriate utilization, and superior clinical services. I am not always confident the executives of the multiple insurers and third-party payors I interface with are held equally accountable.
We have recently watched our banking and automotive executives betray the public trust by assigning themselves large salaries and bonuses and tolerating corporate executive gluttony.
What attention and controls will Obama’s healthcare reform plan assign to ensure big insurers, managed-care companies, and other payers do not do the same thing at the expense of our healthcare faculties and vulnerable patients?
Judith Rogers, RNC, PhD, MSN
Vice President, Patient Care Services/Chief Nurse Executive
Holy Cross Hospital
Silver Spring, Md.
My burning issues for the Obama administration would be funding for IT initiatives, accepting nursing documentation toward pay for performance, no unfunded mandates, and no Medicare cuts.
Patricia Conway-Morana, RNC, MAd, CPH, CNAA-BC, FAC
Chief Nurse Executive
Inova Fairfax Hospital
Falls Church, Va.
A comprehensive, evidenced-based plan to reverse the obesity epidemic needs to be one of the top healthcare priorities for the new administration. Obesity increases the incidence of chronic health problems, including stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
The estimated economic cost of obesity in the U.S. is more than $117 billion per year. We need consistent, integrated, aggressive, well-funded strategies, especially aimed at youth, to address this growing health problem.
Lisa Rowen, RN, DNSc
Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer
University of Maryland Medical Center
The Obama administration should focus on implementation of a consumer-driven healthcare environment, economical alignment of healthcare expenditures with a focus on preventive services, and universal electronic health records.
Focus on these three initiatives will result in enhanced patient safety, patient involvement in healthcare decisions, increased access to information, reduction in healthcare expenditures, and a proactive approach to early detection and treatment of diseases.
Elizabeth Wykpisz, RN, MS, MBA, CNAA, C, CHE
Chief Nursing Officer
Washington Hospital Center
I am aware of the numerous challenges facing President Obama. As a patient care leader, I believe it is imperative that healthcare reform remain on his short list. By implementing his universal healthcare agenda, our industry and communities will benefit in a variety of ways, including access to primary, secondary and tertiary care would improve; complications because of delays in care and treatment would be reduced; healthcare costs could be reduced; and emergency room overcrowding would diminish.
Diane Johnson, RN, MBA
Vice President, Patient Care Services/Chief Nursing Officer