Dear SEIU Nurses,
President Mary Kay Henry recently joined nurse leaders from your local at our most recent SEIU Nurse Alliance Leadership Committee meeting in Florida. President Henry asked nurses, “what are you most proud of as union members?” Hearing our responses, she was inspired by our commitment to see working families thrive, improve healthcare for patients, and serve the community beyond the walls of our hospitals, clinics and healthcare centers.
One of our biggest goals this year will be continuing to protect and improve the Affordable Care Act. Now, we have a great ally in helping us to achieve that goal in our healthcare champion, Secretary Clinton. That’s why nurses spent time talking to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire in support of Hillary Clinton and her proven track record of fighting for high quality, affordable health care. Secretary Clinton will work to strengthen the law. Nurses will play an important role in educating Americans about what’s at stake in our healthcare system, how Hillary will work to improve it, and to ensure the voices of working families and the patients we care for are heard.
We also learned about the incredible work going on in California to establish workplace violence prevention standards. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OHSA) is on track to implement major health worker regulations that have stemmed from nurses speaking out about dangerous workplace conditions.
It is more proof of what we already know: our nurses get things done – in the workplace, in the community, in our nation. Together, we have hit the ground running and I am looking forward to the exciting year ahead.
Diane Palmer, RN
Chair, Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare
In late January, teams of nurses from the Midwest traveled to Iowa to talk to voters about Hillary Clinton’s vision for our country and our healthcare system during the Iowa Caucuses. Cathy Glasson, R.N. and president of SEIU Healthcare Iowa wrote an op-ed for the Iowa Press Citizen about protecting and strengthening the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m going to be knocking on doors to make sure our next president preserves the life-saving benefits of this landmark law and works to improve it. That next president needs to be Hillary Clinton. She will continue to work to strengthen the law through improvements that provide families with quality, affordable health care.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced 9.6 million people had chosen plans through federal marketplaces since the open enrollment period began in November, 2015 with another 3.1 million gaining coverage through state-based marketplaces. This reduced the number of Americans who are uninsured by 45 percent. Secretary Burwell was quick to thank health care reform advocates who have helped sign people up for coverage and have protected the law along the way. “The Marketplace is growing and getting stronger and the ACA (Affordable Care Act) has become a crucial part of healthcare in America,” Burwell said.
The main take away is the ACA is here to stay. As we enter into election season, we need to ensure the next president will protect and improve the invaluable benefits and protections of the ACA and remind our friends and neighbors just how far we’ve come since the days of denials for pre-existing conditions, millions of uninsured young adults and insurance companies ending your coverage if you were diagnosed with a serious illness.
SEIU participated in a week of action that began on Jan. 11 to encourage Latinos and African American families to shop for coverage at healthcare.gov. We used social media to reach out to communities of color and make sure family and friends were covered.
Thanks to the ACA, communities of color have greater access to affordable healthcare, including preventive services such as cancer screenings with no co-pay or deductible. Last year, 4.2 million Latinos (ages 18-64) gained coverage, lowering the uninsured rate among Latinos by 7.7 percentage points; the uninsured rate for African Americans dropped by 6.8 percent.
Younger adults are also enrolling in higher numbers. Nearly 3 million people between the ages of 18 and 34 have signed up for coverage—more than a quarter of all plan selections. Also, more than half of the women and men who had enrolled previously are returning to the marketplace to actively shop for the best plan that suits their healthcare needs and budget.
Altogether, more than 90 percent of Americans now have the peace of mind knowing they have health coverage.
Violence shouldn’t be part of the job. Regulations spearheaded by SEIU nurses in California should be approved by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board no later than June 30 and would go into effect by October, 2016.
“Our SEIU nurses played a large part in getting the Workplace Violence Standard adopted by attending every CAL/OSH Standards Board meeting. The nurses and healthcare worker's gave gut wrenching testimony. Their stories were so powerful and compelling that the standards board voted to move the petition forward instead of doing a six month needs assessment as is customary. I am so proud and excited that my local, Local 121RN, decided to embark upon this journey along with the SEIU Nurse Alliance of California on leading the fight for this historical standard. My only wish now is for this standard to be adopted at the Federal level for all workers. No one should go to work in fear of not coming home; violence is not part of the job.”
- Gayle Batiste RN
Many of us have been following the public health crisis in Flint, Michigan since alarming lead levels were reported in national media outlets in the fall of 2015. In reality, this crisis for working families has been building for nearly two years. Residents of Flint, Michigan, especially children, face serious health problems because of extremely elevated levels of lead found in their drinking water. Flint’s water became contaminated after city officials decided to move their water source -- formerly sourced from Lake Huron and the Detroit River -- to the Flint River. The highly corrosive Flint River water caused lead from aging pipes to leak into water in home.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated there is no safe level of lead that children can tolerate in their blood. Any child who has been exposed to lead contaminated water could face severe mental and physical developmental issues in can be fatal.
Early this month, SEIU members and partners did their part to bring fresh water and support to Flint families by:
Read about the Flint Water Crisis here:
The Zika virus is a tropical disease that usually comes from being bitten by a mosquito. However, it can affect the fetus in pregnant women who have been bitten leaving their babies with brain damage and other health issues. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has warned pregnant mothers against travel to some two dozen countries, mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, new case are showing up in the Western Hemisphere.
Last week, the CDC issued guidelines detailing how to prevent the sexual transmission of Zika, and offered recommendations for health care providers preparing to treat patients infected with the virus.
Some desperately short-staffed rural facilities are trying to attract new nurses to remote areas where salary and benefits can’t compete with urban and suburban counterparts. Administrators began looking for people who wanted to be in a rural community or who had ties to the community.
Healthcare and healthcare support jobs make up the largest share of U.S. News and World Report’s Top 100 Jobs of 2016, including all but one of the top 10 published online Jan. 26. Nursing is prominent on the list, with nurse anesthetist at No. 4, nurse practitioner at No. 6 and registered nurse at No. 22.
A positive work environment is essential to whether experienced nurses will stay at a hospital, according to a new study published in Nurse Ethics.