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 Northwest and Southwest regions how they would advise the new president to improve the U.S. healthcare system:
The entire system must be redesigned and that will take a long period of time. … I would suggest a short-term improvement in the funding and care of children. The SCHIP program should not go away and needs to be enhanced. Children are this countrys future and we need to keep them as healthy as possible while overhauling the entire healthcare system.
– Rhonda Anderson, RN, DNSc, FAAN, FACHE
Pediatric Administrator and Regional Pediatric Service Line Administrator
Banner Children’s Hospital at Banner Desert Medical Center
Providence believes effective healthcare reform will allow every person to access basic healthcare that includes preventive care. As a part of achieving reform, we urge the quick adoption of health care IT legislation that facilitates seamless information-sharing and improves safety and efficiency. Additionally, we hope for increased workforce education funding.
– Deborah A. Burton PhD, RN, CNAA
Vice President, Chief Nursing Officer
Providence Health and Services
Access to healthcare for everyone is a root-cause issue impacting healthcare in the United States. Taking steps to insure everyone seems daunting, but will in fact reduce costs and increase the health and well-being of our country over time. Saying we have a healthcare system in this country is a misnomer until we take this key first step of access for all.
– Cathe Clapp, RN, MN
Vice President for Nursing
Swedish Medical Center Ballard Campus
There is concern that as people lose their jobs they will lose insurance. This will result in [patients] canceling elective/needed surgeries and also result in [patients] delaying care due to concern about the expense. The concern is that people will get sicker and end up in our EDs seeking care.
– Marty Enriquez, MS, RN
Vice President, Patient Care Services
University Medical Center
The United States has major problems regarding accessing healthcare for the poor, the fragile young and elderly, and the working poor. This is now compounded by our extraordinary economic crisis, with no end in sight. … While I believe Mr. Obama must develop a realistic healthcare plan, at this time the most important thing is to stabilize the economy and implement measures that significantly reduce unemployment. Economic stress creates numerous health issues for individuals and families, both physically and mentally.
– Carol Feuger, RN
Chief Nursing Officer
Abrazo Health Care
The Obama administration will need to … explore systems to address healthcare structure for children and families of the uninsured and underinsured. Throughout the healthcare systems an important issue will be funding the public health system because it is the core services for our healthcare systems throughout America. Critical to our entire nation is the support for the healthcare of our returning troops and their families.
– Frankie T. Manning RN, MA
Associate Director/Nursing Service
VA Puget Sound Health Care System
“One important step is the revitalization of the Health Resources and Services Administration, including the Bureau of Health Professions and Division of Nursing. This agency has historically served as the ‘access’ agency and focused on the needs of vulnerable populations, including rural and underserved people. Additional, strategic support, thoughtful and capable leadership, and mechanisms for revitalizing health workforce development would go a long ways toward advancing the goal of reforming our health system….”
– Marla E. Salmon, ScD, RN, FAAN
Robert G. and Jean A. Reid Endowed Dean in Nursing
University of Washington
The shortage of healthcare workers affects everyone and will worsen as our population, including healthcare workers, ages. We need federal policy and leadership to alleviate the problem by increasing funding for traditional nursing education programs and programs designed to increase the number of mid-level professionals such as midwives and nurse practitioners. These mid-level professionals will strengthen access to healthcare.
– Cheryl Nester Wolfe, RN, MSN
Senior Vice President of Operations, Chief Nursing Officer
Salem Health, Salem, Ore.