#NeverAgain

  

For decades, the American Nurses Association has called on lawmakers to come together and pass common sense policies that prevent gun violence and protect Americans. Nurses have pushed for action to enhance our background check system, enact mandatory waiting periods, prevent potentially dangerous individuals from getting guns, and allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research gun violence and firearm injury prevention.

These calls were strengthened and renewed at our 2016 Membership Assembly and took on new urgency in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month. And while it is frustrating that we made appeals after Sandy Hook, Aurora, Orlando, Las Vegas, and so many other horrific mass shootings, with nothing done to stop this violence, nurses will not stop calling for action.

ANA, along with 95 other organizations, recently called on Congress to establish a bipartisan National Commission on Mass Shootings. We are also actively supporting Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy’s Gun Violence Research Act (H.R. 1478). This bill repeals the current provision that prohibits the CDC and other federal agencies at the Department of Health and Human Services from researching gun violence and firearm injury prevention. This bipartisan bill is a first step in working toward preventing gun violence.

Nurses have a unique perspective on this issue and their input is needed now more than ever. We call on you to help lend your voice to this important issue. Please send a message to your legislators letting them know you support Congresswoman Murphy’s legislation, and be sure to include your own perspective on this critical issue. ANA is committed to working with our partners on and off Capitol Hill to bring nurses’ dedication and ideas forward to help solve this issue. We stand together in calling for meaningful gun violence prevention and increased dialogue with our communities to take action against hate and death.

Our thoughts remain with the victims, students, parents, teachers, first responders and the medical professionals in Parkland, Florida, as they work to heal. ANA is also cognizant of the impact these mass causality shootings have on survivors of gun violence and the continued challenges of recovery that they face. The Parkland community has mobilized around their grief and anger to spark a national conversation, which we have not seen in quite some time. This is a conversation that is long overdue.

Gun violence like this is far too familiar in the United States, and, like so many others, nurses are dealing with the consequences. On average, there are more than 35,000 gun deaths per year in the United States, including almost 13,000 homicides. Even more outrageous is that nearly seven children under the age of 19 are killed with guns every day in the United States. Nurses are being called to care for victims of not only mass shootings but homicides, suicides and accidental shootings in clinics and emergency departments throughout the country. It is because of this that so many nurses and their families are joining the students, parents and teachers at Stoneman Douglas by standing up and saying #NeverAgain.

“We (nurses) are on the front lines of every mass shooting, which over time has become deadlier and more frequent. We have a duty to advocate for the safety of all through stricter gun laws and research the growing trend of gun violence” said Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of ANA.

 

Introducing the Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act

  

Advocating for and passing legislation that helps nurses and patients is a fundamental part of our Year of Advocacy. Nurses advocate every day for their patients, their communities and the profession, but it is also important that nurses lend their expertise to elected officials as they draft and pass legislation relevant to the nursing profession.

Earlier this month our bipartisan champions in the House of Representatives and Senate introduced a bill that will improve care and help keep nurses and patients safe. Champions including Reps. David Joyce (R-OH-14), Suzan DelBene (D-WA-10), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2) as well as Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), came together to introduce the Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act of 2018 (S. 2446, H.R. 5052).

The bill requires hospitals to establish a committee, composed of at least 55 percent direct care nurses, to create nurse staffing plans that are specific to each unit. As nurses across the country know, patients risk longer hospital stays, increased infections, and avoidable injuries when units are understaffed. Understaffing also leads to lower nurse retention, higher rates of injury and burnout.

“RN staffing makes a critical difference for patients and the quality of their care,” said Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association. “Appropriate nurse staffing keeps patients safe and protects them from preventable complications, even lowering the risk of death. Nursing care is like medication—we would never withhold a medication when we know its lifesaving effects. The Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act empowers direct care nurses to determine the unique and variable needs of their patients to ensure the safety and quality outcomes of care.”

Our Congressional champions also understand why this legislation is so important.

“As a husband of a nurse, I have experienced first-hand the many challenges and responsibilities nurses face on a day to day basis,” said Joyce. “Ensuring patient safety and care has always been a priority but has faced many challenges when nurses are over worked and hospitals are under staffed. As Co-Chair of the House Nursing Caucus, I am proud to introduce legislation that addresses the issue and protects our patients and nurses.”

“As the husband of a nurse, I know firsthand the many challenges nurses face and how critical their care is to patients,” said Merkley. “Safe staffing enhances the quality of patient care, reduces medical errors, and increases nurse retention.”

But introducing this bill is just the first step. We need your help getting more cosponsors for this legislation – let your Senators and Representatives know why safe staffing is so critical. Click here to send them an email asking them to support this bill and be sure to include a personal note on why nurse-driven ratios are so important.

Congress reopens the government and reauthorizes CHIP while HHS creates a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

  

Earlier today the Senate announced a deal for a three week continuing resolution to reopen the government. While this is an important step, ANA continues to advocate for a long-term, bipartisan solution to provide Americans with a greater sense of stability. In particular, we encourage both chambers to find an equitable compromise for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Included in this deal was a six year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It’s been more than 100 days since this vital, bipartisan program, which provides health coverage to 9 million children and pregnant women, was fully funded, and many Americans across the country worried that their family’s health care could run out. Nurses were critical in securing this win and we can’t thank you enough for reaching out to your representatives in Congress demanding a long term solution.

The shutdown and CHIP reauthorization are not the only important issues developing in Washington. Last Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it was establishing a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division under the Office for Civil Rights. This new division is charged with enforcing current laws that protect nurses and other health professionals who refuse to provide care to which they have moral or legal objections.

While health care professionals are obligated to follow laws and the federal government has the obligation to enforce these laws, both parties have the important responsibility to ensure that all patients receive the care and treatment to which they are entitled. All health care professionals’ first priority should be the quality and equal access of care their patients need. That is one of the reason that several organizations, including the National Women’s Law Center, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Human Rights Campaign, have expressed concerns that this new division could cause increased discrimination among certain groups of patients.

There are also legitimate concerns that this new entity could hinder or even deny some patients the care or treatment options open to them. Far too often vulnerable populations experience discrimination when it comes to their health care. Patients rely on nurses to provide honest and professional medical advice and treatment during the course of care regardless of their own beliefs. It is vital that all patients, regardless of their beliefs, sexual orientation, gender or health care needs know they are receiving the most accurate and timely care.

This issue is extremely important to the nursing profession. In response to this announcement Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association (ANA), issued the following statement:

“The American Nurses Association Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements states that a nurse has a duty to care. It also states a nurse is justified in refusing to participate in a particular decision or action that is morally objectionable, so long as it is a conscience-based objection and not one based on personal preference, prejudice, bias, convenience, or arbitrariness. Nurses are obliged to provide for patient safety, to avoid patient abandonment, and to withdraw only when assured that nursing care is available to the patient. Nurses who decide not to participate on the grounds of conscientious objection must communicate this decision in a timely and appropriate manner, in advance and in time for alternate arrangements to be made for patient care. Nurses should not be discriminated against by employers for exercising a conscience based refusal.

However, we must take care to balance health care professionals’ rights to exercise their conscience with patients’ rights to access a full range of health care services. Discrimination in health care settings remains a grave and widespread problem for many vulnerable populations and contributes to a wide range of health disparities. All patients deserve universal access to high quality care and we must guard against erosion of any civil rights protections in health care that would lead to denied or delayed care.”

Discrimination, prejudice and bias have no place in the American health care system and no patient should have to worry they aren’t getting the timely or medically necessary treatment they need. Nurses will continue to advocate for their patients to prevent discrimination and ensure that all Americans receive the high quality care they are entitled to. As the Department of Health and Human Services moves forward with this undertaking we will continue to monitor not only the implementation of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division but the activities coming out of it to ensure that patients and health care professionals are protected.