The unique perspective that comes from standing by a patient’s bedside through thick and thin—shepherding people from sickness to health—is what positions nurses to excel in public office. Karines Reyes, RN, of Montefiore’s Weiler Hospital, is a professional—trained to listen, to care for people in need, and to keep calm under pressure. For these reasons, and many more, NYSNA proudly endorsed NYSNA RN Reyes on May 18 in her bid to represent the people of New York as an Assembly member for New York’s 87th District.
Reyes is on the front lines, working tirelessly—for her patients, her Bronx community, and her union. New York Nurse spoke to Reyes about her decision to run, the major challenges facing the 87th District, and how her experience and perspective can make a difference.
Why did you choose to go into nursing?
I’ve always had a love for the medical field. I had the chance to work at a hospital in college and saw the nurses and doctors perform selfless, giving and rewarding work every day. I knew it would be a challenging and difficult job, but when I come home at the end of each shift, I feel like I made a difference.
What motivated you to run for office?
Soon after I became a nurse, I started doing advocacy work with NYSNA. I would travel to Albany to meet elected officials, participate in contract negotiations with hospital management, and volunteer at health fairs in my community. I began to realize that how much we were able to accomplish was heavily influence by state policy. I would meet politicians who were making enormous decisions about healthcare policy that would have a major impact on my patients, my neighbors, and my family. Yet, these individuals had no clinical experience. How could they decide what is best for the health of the community if they had no experience working in healthcare? This disconnect motivated me to run for office so that I could be further involved in shaping the health of the Bronx.
How do you think being a nurse would inform your perspective as a member of the Assembly?
I am a nurse that lives and works in my community. I have a clear understanding of the needs of my constituents. To me, patients are not just numbers, they are human beings in a bed. Very few politicians can say they know their community as intimately as nurses do.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the 87th District?
We absolutely lack access to healthcare and a quality education. For example, in the Bronx, there are no gifted and talented schools for children above the 6th grade level. This is not true for children in other boroughs and these programs enhance children's ability to succeed. The Bronx is also the unhealthiest county in New York. We have the highest rates of diabetes, asthma and maternal death. The social determinants of health impact our ability to thrive. We are overlooked because we are black and brown and no one expects us to do well. I want to change this.
What role do you think our state government should play in building healthy communities?
The state controls funding and determines which communities have access to essential resources. I want to advocate for policies that will improve my community, including a single-payer system. I also want to make sure the state does not forget about my constituents. I have been a nurse and an advocate for years and as a member of the Assembly, I will use my influence to invest in the betterment of my community as I have been doing my whole career.
Support Karines Reyes, RN
If you want to donate to or volunteer for Karines Reyes’ campaign for State Assembly, go to: FriendsofKarinesReyes@gmail.com or call (347) 993-3354.