NEW YORK NURSE: January/February 2010
by Karen A. Ballard, MA, RN, FAAN, President
As this issue goes to press, there are two crises, one international and one local, that cause concern regarding access to needed health care. The international crisis is the Haitian earthquake. The local crisis is the New York State budget and how it will affect healthcare services in our state. Both will cause suffering, as individuals struggle to receive necessary care.
We experience the anguish in Haiti as the media shows us the extent of the damage and the injuries to the Haitian people – many of whom are receiving only sporadic care as the hospitals, clinics and healthcare workers struggle with the magnitude of the disaster. Many NYSNA members are Haitian nurses and they are worrying and mourning for family and friends. Our prayers and thoughts go out to them. Sr. Mary Finnick, a longtime NYSNA member, runs a Haitian clinic, the Matthew 25 House. The clinic is named after the bible verse that includes: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat…” Obviously, Sr. Mary Finnick and the other healthcare and rescue workers in Haiti will need support for months to come to help heal the Haitian people and their country.
Here in New York, our state is facing a multi-million dollar state budget deficit in which health care accounts for 35% of the overall budget. Governor David Paterson has been clear that this is a year for decreased expectations in what the state will be able to provide. All segments of the industry will be impacted – hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, hospices, and most certainly Medicaid. The cuts contained in the Governor’s proposed budget will result in diminished reimbursement to healthcare providers and practitioners, industry-wide layoffs, and a reduction in services to some of New York’s most vulnerable residents. In addition to direct healthcare cuts, nursing in the state will be impacted by cuts to education and also to the state agencies that oversee the profession and healthcare services.
These can be disheartening times as we feel pummeled by outside, uncontrollable forces. But nurses and nursing need to stay focused and mobilized to reduce the impact of these crises on the profession and our patients. We need to give generously to the Haitian people and those who care for them – financially, emotionally, and spiritually. We must let state legislators know that reductions in the state budget that adversely impact on delivery or quality of services will not be tolerated. NYSNA members must make sure that nursing’s voice is heard in Albany. Read New York Nurse faithfully, check our website for updates on the budgetary process, and pay attention to action alert e-mails.
These are times for all of us to join collectively to address these crises. Together we can make a difference as we advocate for our patients and health care. For more information see the related articles in this issue or go to www.nysna.org.