Sponsor of H.R. 1651 in the 115th Congress:
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson TX-30
Sponsor of S. 1106 in the 115th Congress:
Jeff Merkley (OR-D)
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As the lead sponsor of The National Nurse Act, H.R. 1651, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) embodies the role of nurses in public health, advocacy and leadership. As the first nurse elected to the United States Congress, Congresswoman Johnson has been a foundational supporter of a National Nurse for Public Health.
Recently, Congresswoman Johnson offered the following words in support of a national nurse, “Nurses play a critical role in the prevention and management of our nation’s deadliest conditions like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and opioid addiction. They are also the first to comfort those who are in distress.
The National Nurse Act provides an opportunity to bring forth the significant and trusted voice of the nurse to the ongoing conversation about health and health care in America.
I am pleased to have introduced this legislation in the 115th Congress and, along with a bipartisan group of Members of Congress, have contacted the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee urging a hearing and markup on the bill as soon as possible, in order to move the legislation and allow the full Congress to weigh in on the important job our nurses perform every day in every corner of this country.”
Thanks to the leadership of dedicated elected officials like Congresswoman Johnson, The National Nurse Act is moving steadily closer to reality.
Together with the American Nurses Association (ANA), the National Nursing Network Organization honors and celebrates the work of nurses during National Nurses Week from May 6–12, 2018. This year, the ANA recognizes the vital role of nurses in elevating the health of individuals and communities through the theme “Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence.” Additionally, ANA declared 2018 to be the “Year of Advocacy”. A National Nurse for Public Health would embody the leadership role of nurses in innovating and advancing the health and well-being of patients, families, communities, and our entire nation.
Each year, National Nurses Week honors the foundational work of Florence Nightingale around her birthday. This year, we reflect on how nurses protect and improve public health. To mark the occasion, the ANA provides the National Nurses Week 2018 Toolkit. During this Nurses Week, let’s recognize nurses as America’s most trusted professionals as we advocate and influence change. What better way to honor the work of nurses than through recognition of a National Nurse for Public Health.
Thank you to Cathy Lodico MS, RN, CCM for authoring the National Nurse Act that was featured in the January 2018 issue of CMSAtoday. Cathy currently serves as a member of the National Nursing Network Organization Advocacy Team. She is also the co-chair of the Case Management Society of New England public policy committee. Cathy believes that becoming more politically active is a choice and a learning experience that has challenged and assisted her in her personal growth and development.
Public policy and the healthcare environment was the theme for this month’s journal. Cathy writes, “Like the other case managers with who I have had the opportunity to work, I am passionate about public policy, especially when it focuses on best practices that have the potential to better serve clients and families. This is the case with the National Nurse Act, a bill that is intended to provide leadership aimed toward preventing chronic conditions that create a huge economic, physical, and psychosocial toll for all of us.”
Teri Mills MS, RN, CNE ®, President of the National Nursing Network Organization, was quoted in the article, “Nurses and case managers have always been terrific advocates for their patients and families in the hospital and community settings. However, this is no longer enough. It is crucial we take our voices to Capitol Hill and our state legislatures, where critical decision are being made that not only affect those we care for, but also the care we provide to them.”
Please take a look at this article as it provides many easy and practical suggestions on how you can begin your advocacy for this legislation.
Thank you to nurse leader and long-time supporter of the National Nurse Act, Connie Sunderhaus RN-BC, CCM, for incorporating the National Nurse Act into the plenary session she presented earlier this year at the Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC) Symposium. Connie currently is Vice President of CXJ Corporation and managing consultant of the Health Care Group. She has authored articles and presentations for the case management and disease management communities.
Connie's presentation, Public Policy: Things You May Know, Things You May Not Know, and Things You Need to Know was attended by over 500 participants. The majority of her audience was comprised of nurse case managers. Connie believes that as healthcare professionals, case managers have an obligation to understand those legislative policies that impact the care of the population. Her session focused on ways nurses and case managers can bring their voice forward in the legislative process – at the local, state and national levels.
Connie told her audience, “Due to continued communications with my Congressional U.S. Representative in dialogue about healthcare issues, I requested his support of the National Nurse Act. Although this took several attempts, I received notification from his staff that he had indeed become a co-sponsor. Another member of Congress also signed on as a co-sponsor following my conversation and education to him of the importance of the National Nurse Act. He too understood the need for the bill and especially appreciated the intent of promoting wellness as well as the fact that the bill did not require the need for additional governmental funding for implementation.”
The 2017-2018 flu season is quickly approaching the worst in nearly a decade. According to the CDC as of early February 2018, over 17,000 US residents have been hospitalized, and 63 children have died due to influenza. High hospitalization rates strongly correlate with increased deaths. The current flu season is expected to exceed that of 2014-2015, during which about 56,000 Americans died.
Influenza is now widespread across all US states except Hawaii. While flu rates may have already peaked in states like California and Oregon, it is expected to persist nationwide through at least April, underscoring the need for a comprehensive prevention and management approach.
Vaccination remains the most critical component of preventing flu and mitigating the severity and fatality of illness. Since multiple flu strains exist and the virus rapidly mutates, influenza is a difficult illness against which to vaccinate. During this current US flu season, experts estimate the vaccine to be only about 30% effective in preventing illness. Yet, even in cases where that vaccine doesn’t fully prevent flu infection, it greatly lessens the duration and severity of illness, thereby decreasing risk of hospitalization and death. According to the CDC, as of November 2017, only 38.6% of US residents over a 6-month period had received the flu vaccine.
Working alongside other public health leaders, a National Nurse for Public Health would bring the professional expertise in disease prevention and management to mitigate the effects of epidemic influenza and prevent the likelihood of future incidents of pandemic flu. Nurses stand with the CDC, that outlines key steps to preventing the flu. First, all individuals over the age of 6 months are recommended to receive a yearly flu vaccine.
Next, every person can take steps to prevent the spread of germs. These universal prevention steps include avoiding contact with sick people, staying home when you are sick with flu symptoms, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or inner elbow when you cough or sneeze, washing your hands frequently with warm water and soap or using alcohol-based sanitizer, and avoiding touching the eyes, mouth and nose. Nurses are trusted experts in safety, hygiene and disease prevention. A National Nurse for Public Health would provide a credible and trusted voice in flu prevention and management.