Congressional Inaction Threatens Healthcare for 9 Million Vulnerable Children

  

With the hubbub surrounding healthcare reform, North Korea, protesting football players, and several devastating hurricanes, it is imperative that we as nurses and citizens not lose track of other important issues that also deserve our attention. For instance, on Saturday, 9 million of our most vulnerable children stand to lose their healthcare if Congress does not act.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a popular bipartisan program that was created in 1997 in order to serve children who would not otherwise have access to health insurance. Unfortunately, funding for CHIP runs out on September 30th.

Despite a reported bipartisan agreement to extend financing for this critical program, Congress has yet to take action.  And time is running out: Axios reports that the situation is dire for at least three states—Minnesota, Arizona, and North Carolina—as well as the District of Columbia, all of whom would run out of CHIP funding between October and December of this year if Congress does not meet its September 30th deadline. Most other states are projected to run out of CHIP funding sometime early next year without immediate action to fund CHIP.

Nurses know that this is unacceptable. We can all agree that America’s children are our most precious and valuable resource—simply put, leaving 9 million American children without healthcare is immoral and wrong. Moreover, it would be bad policy. As the Children’s Hospital Association puts it, “healthy children grow up to become healthy adults, and CHIP helps ensure that the children covered by the program are able to reach their full potential.”

The American Nurses Association agrees. The evidence shows that children with access to CHIP experience improved health outcomes, reductions in avoidable hospitalizations, and lower child mortality, all of which reduce overall healthcare costs. CHIP recipients are also more likely to attend school and graduate from college, and less likely to cause their parents to miss time at work.

Bottom line: CHIP translates into gains with “positive implications for both individual economic well-being and overall economic productivity.” In short, it’s a no-brainer.

It’s time for Congress to act now, before funding runs out for this common-sense program. Our children deserve no less.

American Nurses Association Stands Behind Assaulted Utah Nurse

  

The video is disturbing, and underscores the need for federal officials in OSHA to take steps to protect healthcare workers from violence. In it, Utah nurse Alex Wubbels calmly tells a detective that she cannot draw blood from an unconscious patient without a warrant, an arrest, or some form of consent (e.g. from the patient or a medical power of attorney). A hospital administrator can be heard on her speakerphone, backing up nurse Wubbels and asking the detective to not get angry at the messenger.

The detective snaps, pushes nurse Wubbels outside, and arrests her as she screams for help.

Perhaps the most disturbing part about this story is that Wubbels did everything right. “Alex Wubbels did everything correct,” said Aimee McLean, President of the Utah Nurses Association. “She stepped away from her patient’s unit, she deescalated, she followed hospital policy and procedure. This never should have happened.”

Indeed, touching a patient, performing a procedure, or drawing blood from a patient without their consent is assault and battery and is contrary to a patient’s right to privacy. Wubbels followed her hospital policy, her obligations under her nurse practice act to advocate for her patient, and her ethical duty under provision 3.1 of the Code of Ethics for Nurses to protect the privacy and confidentiality of her patient.

She did so calmly and professionally, and with the backing of her administration. And she was arrested for it.

So what’s the lesson to be learned here? For one, that Alex Wubbels is a hero to her patient, to her hospital and to nurses across the country. Two, even when nurses do everything right, we oftentimes still face repercussions. Rightfully refusing an unsafe assignment sometimes leads to discipline. Rightfully speaking out about unsafe patient care conditions sometimes leads to termination. And, taken to an extreme, doing everything exactly right in advocating for the rights of your patient apparently sometimes leads to arrest.

But, make no mistake about it: nurses will do what’s right in the interests of advocating for our patients, regardless of the situation.

The upshot here? Nurses are closing their ranks around Alex Wubbels. Across the country, we are speaking up online, in the media, and as professional organizations to decry what happened to nurse Wubbels and to call for accountability and changes to ensure this never happens again. We hope the public and the federal government will join us.

Alex Wubbels, ANA has your back. #Nursesunite

Nurses Answer the Call for Help in Wake of Hurricane Harvey

  

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, there has been an outpouring of support, especially from our nation’s nurses. Stepping up during tragedies like this is one of the main reasons nurses are considered our nation’s most trusted profession. Please consider supporting those affected by Harvey by donating your time and professional skills, clothing, financial aid, or other resources to the charitable organizations below.

It is an honor to represent and advocate for those on the front line who invariably respond to the call for service in times such as these.

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(Photo Credit: Instagram @AllieJPillow;  “Please share so the nurses in Houston hospitals know, relief is on the way!!”)

Texas Nurses Association
https://texasnurses.site-ym.com/donations/default.asp

Resources for Nurses Affected by Hurricane Harvey
https://texasnurses.site-ym.com/news/news.asp?id=361587

Health and Mental Health Volunteers Needed
http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/lp/hurricane-harvey-health-professionals

Opportunities for Nurses and Nursing Students
http://www.redcross.org/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities

Texas Disaster Volunteer Registry
https://www.texasdisastervolunteerregistry.org/index.php

ANA: A Nurse’s Duty to Respond in a Disaster
http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/WorkplaceSafety/Healthy-Work-Environment/DPR/Disaster-Preparedness.pdf