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 staff nurses from Texas and Louisiana 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?Shaye Warner, RN, CCBE
“Teenage pregnancy has reached epidemic proportions here in Texas. I would like more education focused on prevention. The abstinence-only programs that are currently in place are not working. Also, as a certified childbirth educator, I feel that prenatal classes for pregnant teenagers are a must. They should be encouraged by their OB/GYNs and insurance companies. These classes are a valuable tool in providing education in not only the labor and delivery process, but also in diapering, feeding, sleep schedules and post-partum depression.”
– Shaye Warner, RN, CCBE
Labor and Delivery Nurse
The Womens Hospital of Texas at Conroe
“The Obama administration should direct its attention to the shortage of RNs and nurse educators throughout the country. Financial aid and educational resources for nurse educators are necessary to handle additional classes of nursing students without compromising the quality of education.”
– Mary Jo DAmico, RN, BSN, CNOR
Associate Vice President of Perioperative and Womens Services
Touro Infirmary, New Orleans
The gap between supply and demand … is not because of lack of interest, but because we lack academic seats due to lack of faculty. … We must open faculty positions, funded through state and federal grants.
– Tim Bevelacqua, RN, MN,
Specialty Patient Care System Executive
Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, Houston
An increasing demand for healthcare caused by the aging baby boom population, and the limited enrollment capacity in nursing programs across the country due to faculty shortages, is driving a national nursing shortage. … I would love to see the Obama administration propose a plan that includes increasing salaries for nursing faculty in order to attract more qualified candidates to the classroom, which would in turn increase enrollment.
– Elester Stewart, RN, MSN, MHA
Vice President of Cardiovascular and Medicine Services
Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas
First we have to address staffing so we can safely administer care and meet expectations for patients and family members, including in the hospital, through discharge and their care and safety at home. Our patients have many physical, emotional, and social problems, and nurses need to spend more time getting to know them and their needs. … We need enough staff to recognize problems of indigence and help administer funds to meet these needs.
– Bindu Kuriacose, RN, PCCN
Clinical and Discharge Nurse
University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
“The main priority is assisting low-income patients who cant afford healthcare. Qualifications for financial assistance programs are so strict that many people are turned away, or cant get the full care they need, particularly when they have comorbidities. They reach their financial limit for care and are transferred before receiving services theyd get with insurance or private pay.”
– Vi Tran, RN, BSN
Staff Nurse 1, Critical Care
Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital, Houston