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?
The U.S. is at a critical point in our healthcare delivery system. President Obama should address affordable, accessible healthcare for all Americans. In addition, there should be a focus on disease prevention such as screenings, especially in underserved and vulnerable populations. Healthcare programs for children, senior citizens, and at-risk populations are of primary concern.
Gail Baumlein, RN, BSN, MSN, PhD, National Dean of Nursing Programs, Chamberlain College of Nursing, Addison, Ill.Marjorie A. Maurer, RN
In the economic recovery plan Barack Obama is proposing, I would like for him to include healthcare because facilities need a temporary increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage.
Marjorie A. Maurer, RN, MSN, CNAA/BC, VP of Operations/CNO, Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, Downers Grove, Ill.Mary R. Sheahen, RN
Access to care is the No. 1 issue. Hospitals cannot continue to absorb the cost of caring for the indigent and uninsured. Care becomes fragmented, and the lack of any follow-through for the patient prohibits complete care. Prevention of disease has not been incorporated into the U.S. approach to health. Until we do that, disease care will be our primary focus.
Mary R. Sheahen, RN, BSN, MS, Executive Director, Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders, Rolling Meadows, Ill.Mary Pat Olson, RN
We cannot explore healthcare reform without addressing our workforce. I urge the administration to focus on the development of funding sources and innovative strategies to maintain and enhance a robust, well-trained nursing workforce to meet current and future needs.
Mary Pat Olson, RN, MPH, Director of Workforce Development,Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare CouncilDale E. Beatty, RN
I see a growing trend in practice and literature that demonstrates lack of access to quality healthcare for all. The administration needs to address restructuring and aligning all facets of healthcare to assure our communities have access to quality services.
Dale E. Beatty, RN, MS, VP of Patient Services/CNO, Northwest Community Hospital, Arlington Heights, Ill.William Duffy, RN
Obama should address the issue of the uninsured. Access to reasonable healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. I believe Obama can educate the public on the social good and true economic cost of a universal insurance program to push through a plan. We need a plan that will ease the worries of millions of Americans while protecting and preserving the gift of human life.
William Duffy, RN, MJ, CNOR, VP of Nursing,NorthShore University HealthSystem, Evanston, Ill.Shawn Tyrrell, RN
Universal access must be a priority. Ensuring patients have access to affordable care including primary and preventative medicine is key. In our current economic downturn, patients are avoiding needed healthcare such as medications and necessary treatments for chronic and acute disease. The outcome is disastrous for them and the healthcare system. Increased acuity stresses the healthcare system and causes over-utilization of resources and worsening outcomes for patients. Effects are far-reaching and include even greater costs for providers, patients, and payers.
Shawn Tyrrell, RN, MSN, MBA, VP of Nursing Services/CNO,Rush-Copley Medical Center, Aurora, Ill.Angelique Richard, RN
If we want to keep our country and our communities healthy, it is imperative to make progress on access to healthcare for all patients. Our priority is to care for our communities, and we have become critically impacted by the high number of patients who do not have insurance and postpone the care they need. The viability of our future is dependent on ensuring healthcare access and insurance for all patients.
Angelique Richard, RN, PhD, VP of Patient Care Services,Resurrection Saint Francis Hospital, Evanston, Ill.Marianne Araujo, RN
We need to focus on preventing the added erosion of the healthcare system. Medicare and what’s left of Medicaid need to be financially protected. Hospitals are reducing staff to meet current financial restraints. Further reduction will result in decreased quality of care. We must stop the bleeding of the healthcare system through appropriate financial support.
Marianne Araujo, RN, PhD, FACHE, Chief Nursing Officer,Weiss Memorial Hospital, Chicago