It seems as if we can barely get over the shock and pain of one tragedy before we learn of more men, women and children who have fallen to gun violence. But the latest act of senseless violence in San Bernardino, Calif. didn’t just hit close to home--it hit us in our home. Of the 14 innocent lives lost, 10 were members of SEIU Local 721. This wasn’t just someone else’s son or loving partner, neighbor or co-worker. These were members of our family, our SEIU brothers and sisters, who died or were injured, and a whole community left afraid, sad and scared.
As a former public health nurse, I immediately wanted to help. However, this wasn’t an instance where I could treat or prevent a disease. Instead, I joined SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry, nurse colleagues, and other SEIU members and leaders to meet with our Local 721 brothers and sisters and extend our hand. We wanted them to know their hurt was our hurt, and they were not alone.
We also joined more than 1,000 co-workers, loved ones, elected and spiritual leaders at a candlelight vigil to stand in solidarity and be the light in the midst of unspeakable loss for families and our nation.
At the vigil, President Henry called upon each of us to use our individual and collective power to demand action of elected leaders at every level to build a better future. We must do whatever we can to keep our communities safe. To me, it’s a way to find hope in a hopeless situation and the best way to honor all who are suffering from this tragedy.
In closing, as we celebrate the holiday season and the close of 2015, treasure the time with family--your loved ones at home and the colleagues you spend time with at work. Recommit to caring for yourself and each other and recharge for the exciting year ahead.
Diane Palmer, RN
Chair, Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare
SEIU members can also support families of our fallen and injured brothers and sisters with contributions at: http://action.seiu.org/together.
While we respect the opinions of members who support a different candidate, the consensus of the International Executive Board (IEB), on which I sit, was that Secretary Hillary Clinton is best prepared to fight, win and deliver for working families.
Secretary Clinton has been a part of our fight for quality, affordable healthcare from the very beginning. She also understands the critical role we as caregivers play, as providers and as family members. In the coming weeks, you’ll be seeing more and more of SEIU Nurses for Hillary--and I encourage you to take part.
After a rigorous months-long process, including three polls, multiple tele-townhalls and hundreds of IEB discussions, SEIU endorsed Hillary Clinton for president and credited her commitment to quality, affordable healthcare: “SEIU members know she will fight hard to strengthen the ACA so we never go backward.”
See one of the latest ads about her 20-year fight for healthcare reform.
Following the endorsement of Hillary Clinton, SEIU Local 199 member Ann Byrne, a registered nurse at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, penned an op-ed for the Cedar Rapids Gazette about why she’s ready to caucus, knock on doors and phonebank to get Clinton elected.
“President Barack Obama led the way. But it was Hillary Clinton who put affordable healthcare at the top of the national agenda for the first time as first lady. She fought for it then; she kept up the fight as a U.S. senator. Who better to entrust the continued fight in the White House?”
In the coming weeks, you’ll be seeing more and more of SEIU Nurses for Hillary. “Like” the SEIU Nurse Alliance Facebook page and www.SEIU.org/nurses to stay informed about the healthcare issues at stake in this election.
Fight for $15
Delores Prescott, a registered nurse at Swedish-Providence in Seattle and member of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, describes why she and other SEIU nurses have joined the Fight for $15 in this Huffington Post op-ed:
"Nurses do all we can for our patients while they're in the hospital, but too often, our patients don't have the financial means to manage their illnesses at home and wind up back in the hospital."
"That's why nurses like me are joining the Fight for $15 - we see that families everywhere need $15 an hour to stay healthy and healthcare workers need $15 to support themselves and their families while caring for others."
Recently, 1199NW nurses and hospital workers united together and won better staffing, secure benefits and a $15 minimum wage for the 7,500 workers in the Swedish-Providence system.
Affordable Care Act
Since Open Enrollment began on Nov. 1, 4.17 million Americans have signed up for coverage through Healthcare.gov, 1.5 million of whom enrolled through the Marketplace for the first time.
These numbers do not reflect those who have enrolled through state exchanges or the past week when there has been an extraordinary surge to meet the deadline for coverage at the New Year. Because of the unprecedented demand--a strong indication that the law is providing what millions of Americans want and need--the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services extended the Dec. 15 deadline to sign up for Jan. 1 coverage by two days.
The healthcare marketplace remains open through Jan. 31. Please encourage patients and loved ones to select a plan at www.HealthCare.gov that best suits their family and budget needs.
According to a new report, there have been historic patient safety improvements since the Affordable Care Act became law including:
National Nurse Conversation
This fall, SEIU nurses from across the country responded to the question, “If you were the head of your hospital, clinic or healthcare organization, what would you do to improve nursing?” in our first-ever online collaboration.
For the next phase, a small team of the most engaged nurses have been selected to consider recommendations and actionable solutions to top-rated ideas such as mentoring novice nurses and ensuring proper break time so experienced nurses can recharge.
Stay tuned for the report’s release in 2016 and how we can use it to advocate for our patients and our profession with thought leaders, employers and more.
Health and Safety
Healthcare workers, including nurses, are at greatest risk for workplace violence, encountering nearly as many injuries as all other industries combined. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, from 2002 to 2013, incidents of serious workplace violence were four times more common in healthcare, on average, than in other private industry.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) just announced a new website to provide employers, workers and their unions with strategies and tools--including real-life examples--for preventing workplace violence in healthcare settings.
SEIU Local 121 nurses and other members of the SEIU Nurse Alliance of California are leading a campaign to win an enforceable comprehensive workplace violence prevention standard for healthcare. For more information and to see how you can help, visit the California Safe Care Standard website.
What We're Reading
Five years after the release of the Institute of Medicine’s report, “The Future of Nursing,” the National Academy of Medicine finds some progress has been made on education and independent practice, but still lagging behind in terms of diversity and leadership.
This article helps nurses process moral dilemmas in patient care while finding a solution that has the best possible outcome for the patient.
What sounds like a present day argument about the supply and demand actually dates back to a 1965 New York Times editorial: “The nationwide shortage of nurses is likely to reach crisis proportions...There is not much chance for permanent relief until the nursing profession is made more attractive to young people through better salaries, working conditions and public recognition.”