Last week, I represented the American Nurses Association (ANA) before the United States Senate Finance Committee to reiterate the urgent need to provide nurses a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), safeguard the mental health and well-being of nurses, and address the racial health disparities exacerbated by COVID-19. Participating in a Senate hearing for the first time was an eye-opening experience. It was evident that senators unanimously respect and appreciate the significant sacrifices being made by nurses in response to COVID-19. What came to light during the hearing was that ANA’s bi-partisan approach to advocacy is working –as both sides of the aisle were interested in hearing our message and ensuring that the nation’s 4 million registered nurses are at the witness table as Congressional debate continues over access to PPE. More needs to be done to ensure nurses have access to PPE – therefore I urge each of you to help amplify our collective voice by taking ANA’s latest PPE survey and contacting your members of Congress today.
As ANA president, I am determined to ensure that ANA continues to be at the table to advance the voices of nurses and the patients they serve. This means the association representing the nation’s registered nurses needs to work with those who are elected regardless of political affiliation. Having good working relationships with the Administration and Congress allows for productive conversations even when we disagree. This approach has provided ANA’s leadership, including me, the opportunity to proactively discuss the threats our nurses face on the frontlines of the pandemic while voicing our opposition over the Administration’s defunding of the World Health Organization or the lack of action in authorizing the Defense Production Act. Despite these differences, ANA is recognized on Capitol Hill and within the Administration as the voice of nursing. This has allowed ANA additional opportunities to meet with influential decision makers.
In 2019, ANA’s highest governing body – its Membership Assembly – voted to move away from endorsing presidential candidates. In this presidential election cycle, ANA is focused on equipping nurses with information about the candidates to better engage in the 2020 elections. While ANA is not supporting a specific presidential candidate, I encourage every nurse and nurse advocate to actively participate in the political process, and vote on November 3. The decision not to endorse was based on recommendations of a bi-partisan task force made up of influential nursing leaders. ANA has developed NursesVote to help nurses activate, educate, support and vote for the political candidate of their choice. The ANA-PAC stands by its long history of endorsing pro-nursing Congressional candidates who typically have strong relationships with our Policy and Government Affairs staff and our Constituent/State Nurses Associations.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, ANA has met with the White House and has interacted with a number of federal agencies: the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to raise concerns about a lack of PPE among other pressing issues. This is in addition to political advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill, which have already resulted in wins for nurses, outlined here in a June Capitol Beat blog. Nurses are at the table – and making a difference.
ANA’s advocacy focus is to ensure our ability to expand and promote nursing’s agenda and to fight for the profession and the patients they serve. We make our concerns known both publicly and in personal meetings with elected officials and their staff. ANA will not remain silent. We continue to lead the charge for nurses.