Published Mar 20, 2004
fighting for america's nurses
throughout his career, john kerry has proudly stood with and fought for america's nurses. kerry teamed with ted kennedy to fight against mandatory overtime. he co-authored the nurse reinvestment act encourage more nurses to enter the workforce and improve training, education, and retention for those who are there today. and kerry worked closely with nurses in brockton, mass. when they were forced to strike for better pay and working conditions. as president, john kerry will continue to be a tireless advocate for nurses.
1. end mandatory overtime: nurses work around the clock to take care of our most vulnerable citizens. john kerry stood shoulder to shoulder with senator ted kennedy to fight against mandatory overtime for nurses. mandatory overtime is having a negative impact on patient care, forcing medical errors, and driving nurses from the bedside. unfortunately, the problem is only getting worse. the kennedy-kerry legislation will place strict limitations on the mandatory overtime hours a nurse may be required to work.
2. ensure safe staffing levels : john kerry believes we need to ensure that there are adequate staffing levels of registered nurses in our health care facilities. when staffing is inadequate, nurses are forced to work overtime and care for too many patients. the difficult working environment for nurses, caused in part by understaffing, is part of the reason that we have a nursing shortage. and, as all nurses know, it can undermine the quality of care.
the medicare and medicaid programs give the federal government the leverage to make sure we have appropriate staffing levels. john kerry will implement rules that account for the number of patients that a nurse cares for in any given shift, the specific health needs of these patients, and the levels of experience and preparation of participating nurses. it is nurses who best understand what is required by the job and john kerry believes they must be involved in developing safe staffing systems. the safety of millions of americans depends upon swift and decisive action to implement appropriate nurse staffing levels nationwide. john kerry will take this action.
3. combat the nursing shortage: john kerry believes the best way to recruit and train more nurses is to treat them with the professionalism and respect they deserve. that starts with good working conditions including: better pay; a career ladder to empower more experienced nurses and to assure younger nurses have mentors to encourage them to stay in the profession; and good working conditions, rather than forced overtime or asking nurses to care for too many patients. john kerry co-authored the nurse reinvestment act to encourage more nurses to enter the workforce and improve training, education, and retention for those who are there today. he believes we must fully fund this legislation.
4. comprehensive whistle blower protection : john kerry will fight for comprehensive whistleblower protections to assure that health care workers in all settings are able to report work conditions and incidents without retaliation. he believes this should be law and supports enacting a strong patients bill of rights. kerry also supports making whistleblower protections a condition for health care providers who want to participate in medicare or medicaid.
5. strong and enforceable rules for a safe and healthy workplace: the most recent reports from the department of labor show that workplace injuries continue to rise. john kerry believes we need to step up enforcement action and begin to prosecute willful violators of health and safety rules. we also need an administration that recognizes the health and safety threat that workers face, whether in the form of ergonomic injury, exposure to tb, or workplace accidents. john kerry will start by stepping up osha inspections, ordering the justice department to vigorously prosecute the worst violators and reinstating the standards for ergonomics that the bush administration eliminated.
6. fighting for the right to choose a union: john kerry strongly supports labor law reforms to assure that nurses have the right to organize. he believes that the card check and neutrality system is the most fair and equitable way for employees to establish their desire to form a union and for employers to recognize the union and begin negotiations. john kerry worked closely with nurses in brockton, massachusetts to settle a strike and he understands that too often working conditions do not improve without the right to organize. john kerry believes freedom of workers to form unions and bargain collectively is a fundamental right and he will not stand for a labor law system in which the union doors are shut for millions of workers.
7. reduce medication errors and stop the scapegoating of nurses : as the landmark institute of medicine report found, medical errors cause nearly 100,000 preventable deaths every year. john kerry believes the first step to combat this problem is creating an atmosphere where health care providers feel comfortable coming forward without fear of retribution. kerry believes we can do this by instituting non-punitive systems for reporting and analyzing errors. it is equally essential to ensure safe staffing levels and stop mandatory overtime. overworked nurses and understaffed hospitals place an unfair burden on the shoulders of frontline health care providers and undermine patient care. as president, john kerry will make sure we don't place unreasonable demands on our health care workers.
finally, john kerry will work to close the extremely wide gap between best practices and typical practices. too often, our knowledge about care does not translate into day to day practice. changing this, particularly for selected chronic diseases (such as diabetes, stroke, congestive heart failure, and arthritis), would dramatically improve health outcomes and reduce costs.
to implement widespread change in the health care system, john kerry believes we need a national commitment that brings everyone to the table. that's why he has proposed a "quality bonus" program that will provide financial incentives to help providers and purchasers improve quality. it provides incentives and rewards health care organizations and health professionals that invest in modern information systems, provide economic incentives to computerize prescribing systems and to make errors transparent - not to punish people, but to find ways to prevent the reoccurrence of these errors.
8. protect nurses from workplace violence : the number of workplace violence incidents involving nurses is alarmingly high. as president, john kerry will take decisive action to combat this disturbing trend. he will implement a strong and enforceable federal standard on workplace violence. he will make sure that every health care facility in america has the most up to date information on training methods and responses to violence. and he will ensure that the government takes an active role in disseminating information on best practices for preventing and addressing workplace violence.
9. support advanced practice registered nurses (aprns): john kerry will ensure fair treatment for nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists. numerous studies have shown that advanced practice nurses provide safe and high quality care. it is long past time that the federal government properly recognized the crucial role that aprns play in the american health care system. john kerry has supported legislation to expand reimbursement opportunities for aprns. however, he understands that there is much more to do to end the discrimination and barriers to practice that aprns face. too often, aprn services are not reimbursed by third party payers. they aren't on panels that set reimbursement policy or assess care. highly restrictive limitations on aprn scope of practice persist. these barriers deny health care consumers the widest possible choice of providers. as president, john kerry will fight for specific legislative and regulatory changes to allow aprns to practice fully.
kerry will raise the outrageously low medicare reimbursement rate for nurse midwives, removing a barrier that prevents cnms from caring for disabled women. and john kerry will push for a change in medicare rules to allow home health agencies and hospices to accept referrals from nurse practitioners.
Hellllllo Nurse, BSN, RN
That's why I'm voting for him!
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