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?Karen Shousha, RN
The new administration needs to focus on providing affordable healthcare for everyone. Affordable healthcare must include prescription medications at more reasonable costs so people on fixed incomes can pay for them. Individuals with pre-existing conditions should not have to worry about being denied access to healthcare. Health maintenance and prevention programs throughout the life span should be available to everyone so we can work toward a healthier society.
Karen Shousha, RN, BSN, Staff Nurse, CentraState Medical Center, Freehold, N.J.Anna Tsyrulnik, RN
Patients who are admitted to the hospital require complicated care. Access to universal healthcare would help people receive care earlier and, therefore, reduce the patients’ severity of illness upon hospital admission. In addition, funding of orientation programs for new nurses, similar to physician residency programs, would support the development of clinically competent nurses.
Anna Tsyrulnik, RN, Staff Nurse, IMCU, Chilton Memorial Hospital, Pompton Plains, N.J.Sandra Chan Weber, RN
As a top healthcare priority, Obama should ensure all people have access to affordable and quality healthcare. The focus of healthcare should be on preventive medicine. As an ICU nurse, I think the healthcare system fails us because there are no incentives when it comes to prevention. A primary focus on prevention would encourage Americans to take greater responsibility for their health and to act proactively.
Sandra Chan Weber, RN, BSN, CWCN, Staff Nurse, MICU, Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center<>Ann Doshi, RN
The administration should focus on keeping our hospitals operating with adequate funding. In the U.S., every man, woman, and child deserves to receive affordable healthcare coverage similar to elected officials. Reducing funds for charity care and quality healthcare professionals ultimately will place our nation’s overall health in jeopardy.
Ann Doshi, RN, CNOR, OR Educator, Morristown Memorial Hospital/ Atlantic Health, Morristown, N.J.Rosemarie Acuna, RN
The implementation of a secure National Patient Database should be a priority so patient information can be accessed anywhere, any time. Portability of this information would cut down on unnecessary testing, improve efficiency, reduce errors, and contribute to clinical decisions. The result — improved quality care.
Rosemarie Acuna, RN, BSN, Staff Nurse, Renal Care, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Livingston, N.J.Marites Ventus, RN
I hope Obama will provide affordable health coverage for all. Many people do not have insurance, so health promotion and disease prevention is not routinely addressed. By the time we see patients in the hospital, they are often extremely ill and have serious health complications, which makes it difficult for us to help them recover.
Marites Ventus, RN, BSN, RNC, Staff Nurse, Critical Care, Somerset Medical Center, Somerville, N.J.Laurel Ann August, RN
Healthcare is no longer optional. We need affordable and comprehensive healthcare coverage for everyone, regardless of employment status. We also need the government to review its required documentation of patient care. By reducing documentation, nurses could spend more time at the bedside and provide quality care and education for their patients.
Laurel Ann August, RN, Staff Nurse, Surgery, The Valley Hospital, Ridgewood, N.J.Adele Rushneck, CCRN
In our financial crisis, hospitals and healthcare providers are forced to deal with devastating cuts at the state and federal levels. Programs and services are being eliminated nationwide. President Obama should focus on broadening the goals of the bailout package to restore funding to hospitals and healthcare facilities whose mission it is to serve the uninsured and working poor.
Adele Rushneck, CCRN, Assistant Nurse Manager, Trauma ICU, Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, N.Y.