Beyond the Bedside

When it comes to emergencies, nurses are there. Extreme Weather Events linked to climate change, like Super Storm Sandy and the floods and destruction that resulted, invoke our community roles in their most recognized terms: some members staffing hospitals for many days at a time, carrying out multiple roles, caring for patients and sometimes leading patients to safety during evacuations. Our continued commitment to community post-Sandy took the form of medical and other relief efforts for many weeks, door-to-door in hardest hit neighborhoods.

We fundamentally believe that the communities we serve must have a central role in the design of healthcare projects and, for that matter, in all decisions about healthcare that affect their populations.

NYSNA was front and center when community representatives, public health experts and other unions, some from foreign nations, marched in New York City at the People’s Climate March. We help make the connection between our communities and others the world over.

Taking on challenges

The harsh winter this year, dumping massive snows Upstate, also challenged our communities and we were there. In Buffalo, where Erie County Medical Center is the only public hospital in an area encompassing several counties, nurses remained on the job, caring for their patients.

When Ebola arrived in New York City, Bellevue nurses stepped up and did the job, dedicating themselves to the care of Dr. Craig Spencer, and remaining vigilant to the virus’s potential harm in the city and beyond. Our collaboration with state and city public health officials helped inform communities, giving direction and instilling calm and confidence when panic may have ensued. The entire country took notice.

These extraordinary acts of commitment to community tend to overshadow the everyday acts carried out by NYSNA nurses in service to community.

Everyday acts

From cancer walks to county fair health booths, taking blood pressure, and dispensing advice on care, our members go beyond the bedside. Outreach to nursing students is constant: they are joining our ranks; and we are serving as their mentors.

At Interfaith Medical Center in Central Brooklyn, an absolutely essential facility for hundreds of thousands of borough residents, we have joined forces with patients, the community, public health experts and other unions to protect and plan for the transformation of the hospital. We listen closely to that community and collaborate so that real needs can be met.

Through the Delivery System Reform Incentive Program — DSRIP — $6.2 billion will be dispensed over the next five years. NYSNA has played a leading role by insisting that community groups be a larger part of the Project Advisory Committees and project development. From the outset, NYSNA has supported a significant role for communities in DSRIP so that real community need be met by expanding primary care providers and ensuring safety net hospitals receive the attention and support they deserve.

Combining our research efforts and member participation, we testified before the DSRIP panel in Albany on February 17 (see testimony excerpts in the January-February issue, pages 6-7). Our members articulated proactive solutions based upon successful evidence-based models of care.

Constant vigilance

We will continue to closely follow DSRIP, contributing fact-based research and NYSNA RN testimony. We will work to assure that input from our community partners be heard and acted upon so that funds be directed appropriately.

Our skills, our evidence-based knowledge and judgment, inform our work at the bedside… and beyond.

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