NEW YORK NURSE: April 2010
by Karen A. Ballard, MA, RN, FAAN, President
We have survived a torturous winter – weather calamities, scandals in “high places,” budget fights, a wrangling Congress, and confused citizens both for and against health care or health insurance reform. March’s misfortunes always seem to give way to the optimism and relief of spring. How does this transition impact us as professional nurses?
In this issue, you will find articles on NYSNA’s budget rally and the historic health care legislation (whatever we are calling it) - it is monumental! Health care in the U.S. will change in ways that many nurses have never seen before or will see again in their professional lives. Only those of us who remember the changes wrought by LBJ’s Great Society and Medicare can even begin to imagine. President Obama and Congress have fulfilled my favorite challenge from Eleanor Roosevelt: “You must accomplish the thing that you think you cannot do.” And, there were definitely times when even I began to lose hope that there was the will and courage in Congress and the nation to achieve health care as a right in this great country. So, any nurse who called a Congress member, wrote a letter, attended a rally, or donated to one of the many coalitions, congratulate yourself – you helped change this nation! Now, as nurses, we need to recommit ourselves to ensuring the implementation of the plan and that changes are made to make sure that available healthcare is equitable, safe, appropriate care delivered by the patient’s practitioner of choice. This will be an ongoing professional challenge to nursing to ensure that the “right of health care” is meaningful and operational. Healthcare reform is a journey of decades, not a single victory in 2010.
To the many nurses who wore NYSNA’s colors so proudly at our budget rally before the Capitol – thank you and know that you also helped make nursing’s voice heard on a vital issue. Regardless of the petty, paralyzing politics that seems to consume Albany these days, nurses clearly delivered nursing’s message on a windy, sunny day to the state legislature – “Underfunded = Understaffed.” I was so proud of the nurses who traveled from around the state to shout out our concern for the draconian Medicaid cuts that will hurt the citizens and healthcare facilities of New York State.
Finally, let me wish you Happy Nurses Week 2010! The seeds of hope and change are within all of us. I am so proud to be a NYSNA nurse and I celebrate all of you for the knowledgeable, skillful and compassionate care that you render every day to your patients, their families and our communities.