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Nursing Leaders Advise New President

Barbara Wadsworth

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 economic downturn has had a domino affect, and our new president needs to put his focus here. With the unemployment rate rising, I fear Americans are losing access to care. Some may not be able to afford their company’s COBRA plans, and others may not want to spend money on copays required to see their primary care physicians. By waiting to seek care, healthcare issues will be exacerbated and more people will show up at hospital emergency rooms sicker, because they delayed healthcare due to financial constraints.”
— Barbara Wadsworth, RN, MSN, MBA, NEC-BC
Senior Vice President/Chief Nursing Officer
Abington (Pa.) Memorial Hospital

Mary Beth Kingston

“The goal for any healthcare reform effort is to improve access, quality and care while reducing costs — a tall order for President Obama. Dramatic change does not come quickly, but there are a few areas that should be immediate priorities for the new administration: requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions at affordable rates to increase the number of insured; working with insurers and providers in a national initiative to reduce obesity and the incidence of diabetes, major contributors to chronic healthcare issues; and focusing on malpractice reforms to reduce overall cost. These initial efforts address a few crucial issues that have been persistent problems, but the planning to overhaul the healthcare system to provide universal access, quality and reasonable cost must begin immediately.”
—Mary Beth Kingston, RN, MSN
Chief Nurse Executive
Albert Einstein Healthcare Network
Philadelphia

Robyn Begley

“The president’s active engagement in finding and implementing solutions to obstacles that prevent or limit access to care is vital to our nation’s health and well-being. Financial and capacity challenges at our nation’s hospitals, a shortage of health professionals including nurses, and an aging population with increasing complex health conditions are among the issues that call for healthcare reform. I would urge President Obama to include funding that invests in our nation’s health professional education system as part of the expected economic stimulus package. Additionally, focusing attention and committing resources to battling chronic illnesses including diabetes, heart disease and obesity would positively impact our nation’s physical health and well-being as well as its economic health.”
— Robyn Begley, RN, MSN, CNAA, BC
Vice President of Nursing
AtlantiCare

Judy Dawson-Jones

“As an ambulatory care nursing leader, I believe the first thing President Obama’s health team needs to do is to assess the performance of the existing healthcare system. Despite the robust efforts of the existing healthcare delivery system, there are too many barriers impeding access for the underserved populations in this country. Additionally, stopgap measures need to be developed and employed to curb the escalating cost of health services, regardless of coverage.”
— Judy Dawson-Jones, RN, MPH
Director of Ambulatory Nursing
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Nancy Bucher

“I would respectfully remind the new administration that hospitals have continued to provide care and services regardless of uninsured patients’ inability to pay. This, coupled with inadequate reimbursements and onerous pension security regulations, have forced hospitals to divert cash needed for the retention of vital health care jobs to fund long-term pension obligations. Without further legislative action, unexpected pension fund requirements could cause an increase in unemployment and slow economic recovery. We need legislation to help hospitals navigate the current economic crisis and minimize the adverse impact on the defined benefits pension plans they sponsor.”
— Nancy Bucher, RN, MSN, CNAA-BC
Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer
Crozer-Keystone Health System
Upland, Pa.

Gloria F. Donnelly

“The first thing Obama should do is require all of his healthcare experts to read [Florence] Nightingale’s biography. Having then been enlightened, they should focus on basics like creating far-reaching health improvement and disease prevention programs that begin early in life; using sophisticated technologies for early detection and intervention in major diseases; focusing on the needs of families and communities to inform the design of health delivery and realizing that the wicked problems of healthcare can only be solved through collaboration among health professionals and the people they serve.”
— Gloria F. Donnelly, RN, PhD, FAAN, Dean
College of Nursing and Health Professions
Drexel University
Philadelphia

Joanne M. Hambleton

“For Obama’s first 90 days, I encourage him to establish programs to cover all children in need; create a Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund to provide more preventive services for chronic illnesses including cancer; order the FDA to focus on and reduce obesity; invest in healthcare information technology to avoid medical errors and better spread effective research; investigate the causes of racial disparities in healthcare and mandate that HHS reduce them; provide better long-term care through assisted-living technology to allow home monitoring, as well as more community health workers led by advanced-practice clinicians.”
— Joanne M. Hambleton, RN, MSN, NE-BC
VP, Nursing and Patient Services
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Philadelphia

Beverly Emonds

“Especially in light of the current economic climate, his first priority should be to address the issue of access to quality, affordable healthcare with a greater emphasis on prevention. An increase jobless rate translates into increased loss of benefits, which creates an even greater need for quick yet effective solutions.”
— Beverly L. Emonds, RN, MSN, CHCR
President, Philadelphia Area Association of Health Care Recruiters
Nurse Recruiter, University of Pennsylvania Health System
Philadelphia

Afaf I. Meleis

“President Obama should inspire — and invest financially — in a global commitment to women’s health and safety; he should also focus on providing future generations with a more global education. As a product of a multinational education that has shaped his values and experiences, he understands the need for this investment.
— Afaf I. Meleis, PhD, DrPS(hon), FAAN
Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Philadelphia

By | 2020-04-15T15:15:57-04:00 January 26th, 2009|Categories: Philadelphia/Tri-State, Regional|0 Comments

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