Sponsor of H.R. 1651 in the 115th Congress:
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson TX-30
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Across the United States and Puerto Rico, natural disasters from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to massive wildfires burning across the West Coast underscore the need to strengthen disaster preparedness and response. A National Nurse for Public Health would bring the leadership skills, policy background and clinical expertise to work collaboratively to support disaster response.
Hurricane Harvey struck Houston and surrounding southeast Texas on August 25, 2017, delivering nearly two feet of rain triggering catastrophic flooding. These floods resulted in nearly 70 deaths, countless additional injuries, tens of thousands of individuals displaced from their homes, and an estimated $80-$100 billion dollars of property damage. Nurses throughout our country have stepped up to respond to Hurricane Harvey. The American Nurses Association has compiled a resource guide to aid nurses in responding to Hurricane Harvey through donations and support.
The effects of Hurricane Maria are still being felt in Puerto Rico where officials continue to describe apocalyptic conditions. Many have died due to the total collapse of infrastructure. The situation is gradually improving thanks in part to the National Disaster Medical System. RNRN is currently asking for donations in support of an upcoming delegation to Puerto Rico. Any excess funds will be used to support future missions to Puerto Rico and elsewhere, making it possible for RN’s to be on the ground faster, with more aid, and more volunteers. Donations are secure, and tax-deductible to the extent of the law.
At the same time that Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, and other southern states have been coping with hurricane winds and massive flooding, the western United States has been engulfed with raging wildfires. Montana has experienced nearly one million acres of forest fires in the last three months. In Washington and Oregon dozens of fires blaze, resulting in declarations of states of emergency. Further south, a large fire recently burnt through Los Angeles County, threatening swaths of the densely population area.
Nurses have a long history of participation in disaster relief. As the largest sector of the healthcare workforce, we can act as powerful community organizers, educators, and advocates in times of greatest need. Strong nursing leadership through a National Nurse for Public Health would help to guide continued efforts in improved disaster preparedness and relief.
Earlier this year, leaders and members of the West Virginia Nurses Association met to thank Congressman David McKinley (WV-1-R) for co-sponsoring of H.R. 1651 The National Nurse of 2017. Congressman McKinley, whose wife Mary is a nurse, serves on the House Nursing Caucus. He is also a long-time member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The National Nursing Network Organization is a grassroots non-profit advocacy organization comprised entirely of volunteers. Our all-volunteer Advocacy Team boasts 65 members with diverse backgrounds in education, culture, professional experience, gender and residence. Advocacy team members hail from 24 states to represent the broad bipartisan support for a National Nurse for Public Health. Team members’ areas of nursing professional practice include nursing education, critical care, leadership, public health, case management, and more. In additional to nursing professionals, the team is strengthened by the presence of one state representative and one state senator, as well as scientists, educators and labor professionals. Our Advocacy Team members mobilize support for a National Nurse on the ground: from writing letters, to speaking with local elected officials, to networking within professional organizations. We can’t thank the team enough for all that they do.
Contact the NNNO Board to learn more about joining the Advocacy Team. There is no cost to participate. Involvement provides a unique opportunity to advocate for public health, engage in positive social change and participate in our nation’s legislative process.
Supporters of H.R. 1651 The National Nurse Act of 2017 are heeding the call to take action by making appointments in their U.S. Representative’s district office. There are many others who are making plans to make these important visits beyond those mentioned in this newsletter.
The National Nursing Network Organization has compiled easy instructions to help ensure their success. Please email the NNNO Board for tips and important materials that can be printed and compiled into an informational packet to leave behind with the staffer or member you meet with.
Thank you to Debbie Hostetler RN, CCM who lives in the 5th Congressional District in Indiana. Debbie visited with Jennifer Bagi, Political Director and Staff Assistant to Rep. Susan Brooks (IN-5-R). Debbie has been a long-time advocate for the National Nurse Act and believes this legislation is a common sense, cost-neutral solution to raising the awareness of the importance of prevention. It’s time to pass this bill!
Thank you to CMSA Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids members Elizabeth Nicka RN, COHN and Sharon Rubick BSN, RN, CCM for their unwavering support for the National Nurse Act. During a recent chapter meeting Liz and Sharon collected dozens of signatures from constituents of Rep. Fred Upton (MI-6-R) and then took the time to deliver these to Chad Dillon in their district office. Their request to Mr. Dillon was to urge Rep. Upton to sign on to H.R. 1651 as a co-sponsor.
Meanwhile, down in the Lone Star State, Joan Westgor MSN, RN, CCM took time out of her schedule and paid a visit to the office of Rep. Will Hurd (TX-23-R). Joan met with Jessica Guerra, Field Representative for the Congressman. Joan is a very active member of the San Antonio CMSA Chapter and she also serves on the NNNO Advocacy Team.
One of the most persuasive forms of lobbying is a face-to-face meeting with your elected officials or her/his staff about the issue at stake, why you are passionate about the issue, and the position you’d like your member of Congress to take. It is for this reason that supporters of the National Nurse Act are taking this step. With the support provided by the NNNO, these activists found their visits to be empowering. Nurses are trusted, credible messengers and this is true even when speaking with elected officials and their staff.
NNNO Advocacy Team Member Dr. Nicole Barnett, RN, MBA, DHSc dropped a packet of information about H.R. 1651 to the district office of Congressman John Garamendi (CA-3-D). After following up with an email, Nicole received word that “Congressman Garamendi is now an enthusiastic co-sponsor for this important legislation” signing on June 20th.
Last month, a team of public health nurses led by New Jersey Association of Public Health Nurse Administrators (NJAPHNA) Co-President Deborah Gash MS, RN met with Jael Davis, a staffer with Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-6-D). Earlier this Spring, NNNO Advocacy team member Leslie Leonard BSN, RN, PHN collected dozens of signatures on a sign on letter urging Congressman Pallone, the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, to advocate for a hearing for the National Nurse Act. As frontline workers in New Jersey public health settings, they wanted Congressman Pallone to know how strongly they support this bill.
On Wednesday June 21st, NNNO Advocacy Team member Cathy Lodico RN, MS, CCM met at the headquarters of New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan to discuss co-sponsorship of the National Nurse Act. Cathy spent time educating Senator Hassan’s assistant, Meredith Shevitz about this bill, including explaining how a National Nurse for Public would benefit the citizens of their state.
Cathy also took the opportunity to share a poster board on H.R. 1651 / S. 1106 The National Nurse Act at CMSA’s 27th Annual Conference and Expo held in Austin, Texas June 26-30.
Members of the Alamo Chapter of CMSA (ACCMSA), led by NNNO Advocacy Team member Joan Westgor, visited four Congressional district offices in Texas, including Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21-R) to advocate for the National Nurse Act. Joan and her colleagues were pleased that their visit with Congressman Will Hurd’s staff resulted in him becoming the 40th co-sponsor of this bill.