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.
Question: What healthcare issue do you think the Obama administration should address first in 2009?Linda Geisler, RN
The Obama administration needs to address accessibility to healthcare, while providing adequate payment for services provided by healthcare institutions. There will be a shortage of professional nurses in the future because of retirement; therefore, incentives must be provided so younger nurses have the opportunity to seek higher education and become nurse educators. Patient safety and support for the development of healthcare information systems are critical issues, as well.
Linda Geisler, RN, MNEd, NEA-BC, VP of Patient Services, CentraState Medical Center, Freehold, N.J.Mary Rich, RN
Healthcare reform must address the essential issues of affordability, access, quality, and universal coverage. Reallocation of reimbursement structures from a high-cost illness management and end-of-life care model to a primary care and chronic disease prevention program would promote an efficient, cost-effective healthcare delivery system.
Mary Rich, RN, MAS, CCRN, Chief Nurse Executive, Chilton Memorial Hospital, Pompton Plains, N.J.Dianne Aroh, RN
The new administration must collectively address the issues of cost, quality, and accessibility in a universal healthcare plan that guarantees basic preventive and treatment services. The U.S. lags behind other industrialized nations in infant mortality, life expectancy, and immunization rates. Our infrastructure and medical training are ranked highly; therefore, the fallout is on delivery of healthcare services. Too many of our citizens cannot afford basic and essential healthcare.
Dianne Aroh, RN, MS, NEA-BC, Executive VP, Patient Care Services/CNO, Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical CenterTrish O’Keefe, RN
The administration needs to expand and integrate technology in the field of nursing to provide quicker, better, and more efficient care for all patients. This federal and state initiative would support nurses, increase nursing retention rates, further reduce medical errors, improve patient outcomes, and affect the quality of the hospital experience.
Trish O’Keefe, RN, MSN, NE-BC, Chief Nursing Officer, Morristown Memorial Hospital/Atlantic Health, Morristown, N.J.Nancy Holecek, RN
Obama’s primary healthcare focus should be on ensuring adequate funding and reimbursement to all hospitals. Each and every patient has a fundamental right to quality care regardless of ability to pay. The new administration needs to work closely with hospitals, physicians, and nursing staff so we can all provide optimal care for our patients.
Nancy Holecek, RN, BSN, MHA, Senior VP, Patient Care Services, Saint Barnabas Health Care System, West Orange, N.J.Maureen A. Schneider, RN
The Obama administration should invest in expanding hospital information technology systems. At Somerset Medical Center, we have seen firsthand how this improves the quality of patient care and helps to reduce preventable medical errors. Because it is extremely costly for hospitals to implement these new technologies, government support is needed.
Maureen A. Schneider, RN, PhD(c), FACHE, Senior VP, Clinical Program Development/CNO, Somerset Medical Center, Somerville, N.J.Linda Lewis, RN
The Obama administration needs to align pay incentives with measures that keep patients healthy. The new administration needs to support nurse faculty positions because disparate faculty salaries will have a catastrophic effect on the nursing profession. Financial resources also need to be devoted to technology.
Linda Lewis, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, VP, Patient Care Services/CNO, The Valley Hospital, Ridgewood, N.J.Laura Caramanica, RN
The demand for registered nurses and other healthcare personnel will continue to grow. The new administration should support the development of programs within the work environment designed to retain nurses in the profession. Hospitals need to be funded adequately so there are no further disruptions in the workforce.
Laura Caramanica, RN, PhD, Senior VP/CNO, Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, N.Y.