For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Genovese, 518.782.9400, ext. 353
SYRACUSE, Sept. 22, 2009 – Proposed cuts in the Onondaga County budget could result in the loss of essential public health services for many county residents.
Because of the limited number of county public health nurses on staff, county health officials are already estimating that there could be drastic delays in immunizing high-risk county residents against the H1N1 virus. Last week, county officials said they are considering contracting with private companies and are seeking volunteers.
Yet registered nurses are among the employees the county has declared to be “non-essential” and subject to salary and benefit cuts and even furlough.
The New York State Nurses Association said that without registered nurses, the county Health Department will be unable to carry out services including emergency response and disease control, family planning, community health clinics, wellness and education, women’s health programs, help for the poor and homeless, high-blood pressure prevention, and programs for the disabled. The Nurses Association represents the 100 registered nurses, who are employed by the county health and long term care and correctional departments.
These vital programs are an indispensable safety net for the people of Syracuse and Onondaga County. They have a proven track record for being more effective and less costly than emergency room care and hospitalization for preventable conditions. County public health agencies are on the front line in protecting the public in the event of a pandemic and would be expected to be ready to respond in the event of a bioterroist attack.
The nurses believe political interests should not take precedence over the heatlhcare needs of children, the poor, and the elderly.
The New York State Nurses Association is the voice for nursing in the Empire State. With more than 37,000 members, it is the state's largest union and professional association for registered nurses. It supports nurses and nursing practice through education, research, legislative advocacy, and collective bargaining.