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Thank you Dean Bleich for your letter of support for H.R. 485, The National Nurse Act of 2013
Dear President Mills,
As we begin an unprecedented federal plan to shift the nation from its present sick-care system to one based on prevention and wellness, it is critical that our country has strong, visible national nursing leadership. That is why I write today in strong support of HR 485, The National Nurse Act of 2013. Elevating the Chief Nurse Officer of the USPHS to full time and designating this position to be known as the National Nurse for Public Health will bring more recognition to the critical and important role nursing fulfills in promoting, protecting, and advancing the nation's health.
Chronic conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and others pose the single greatest threat to the health of Americans and our nation's economy. Nurses have proven time and again that they are effective messengers, advocates, and mentors for healthy living and, according to a recent survey released by the International Council of Nurses, they have a strong desire to use their skills to enable individuals and communities to enhance their wellness. The National Nurse for Public Health will be a strong advocate for nursing involvement in health policy and will provide leadership in generating a stronger and much needed community wide focus on prevention.
This position will generate pride, stimulate interest, and sanction volunteerism without requiring new allocations, creating new positions or duplicating existing services. I commend the efforts and dedication of the National Nursing Network Organization in bringing the National Nurse Act of 2013 to fruition and welcome the opportunity to support in this endeavor.
Michael R. Bleich, PhD, RN, FAAN
Maxine Clark and Bob Fox Dean and Professor
Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College
Member 10M Committee on the Future of Nursing
The National Nursing Network Organization was honored to receive an invitation from U.S. Public Health Service leadership to attend the Change of Command Ceremony for the Chief Nurse Officer of the US Public Health Service on January 17th, 2014. During this ceremony, RADM Kerry Nesseler transferred command to RADM Sylvia Trent-Adams who becomes the tenth Chief Nurse Officer of the US Public Health Service.
In 1949, the position of Chief Nurse Officer (CNO) was created in the Office of the Surgeon General, with the rank of Assistant Surgeon General (the equivalent of Rear Admiral). The National Nurse Act of 2013 would designate the CNO of the U.S. Public Health Service as the National Nurse for Public Health. This will increase visibility of this important nurse and raise the profile of the entire U.S. Public Health Service.
Thank you to Ruth Blevins RN, Executive Director of the WV State Nurses Association and Katie Hall MSN, RNBC for attending and representing the NNNO.
Ms. Blevins sent the following report:
“Gathering with the attendees to watch the ceremony was starting out like any other event. People milling about, a dash to the rest room, finding a seat in a crowed auditorium. But there was a noticeable difference, many of the attendees were in full dress uniforms. Things started changing with the sound of the navy pipe and a call of 6 bells. The snap to attention of the officers lining the aisle, the slow advance of the Rear Admirals, transported myself and the crowd to another place and time. A place rich with tradition, the presentation of Colors, singing the National Anthem in what looked to be a very solemn occasion. The speakers made sure this was not the case. Many times tissues came forth to dry eyes full of tears of laughter, humorous insights were shared along with the accomplishments and praise of the various attendees. What accomplishments! The rigors of active duty in the armed forces, an attention to lifelong learning as a nurse, raising a family all while serving our great country. I was impressed and inspired.
Being a nurse and witnessing this occasion I could not help but savor a sense of over whelming pride. Pride in my profession I share with these nurses who have accomplished much more than the founder of nursing could have ever dreamed. To think that nurses hold sway with national health policies, impacting the healthcare of millions of our citizens is an amazing feat. Thank you Florence Nightingale for without your dedication and perseverance these gallant nurses would not exist and I would not be crying tears of joy witnessing such an event.”
Katie Hall states, “It was an amazing day! It was an honor to be present at the Change of Command Ceremony for the Chief Nursing Officer of the United States Public Health Service. I attended in representation of the National Nursing Network Organization, as a health policy advocate for H.R. 485 and S. 1475, The National Nurse Act of 2013. I had the opportunity to meet with several leaders of the nursing profession and interacting with such dynamic, impassioned, and dedicated individuals was nothing short of inspiring.
The dedication that RADM Kerry Nesseler (immediate past CNO of the USPHS) and RADM Sylvia Trent-Adams (current CNO of the USPHS) have to advancing, protecting, promoting, and advancing our nation’s health was palpable throughout the ceremony. Their commitment to preventing disease and to ensuring the provision of holistic, safe, quality healthcare is admirable and commendable. Once again I am reminded how proud I am to be a nurse and an American!”
It has been 50 years since Surgeon General Luther Terry released the 1964 report, “Smoking and Your Health”. Terry worked in the Kennedy administration and acted upon a letter that President Kennedy received from an alliance of prominent public health organizations, calling for a solution to the public health problem of smoking. The report authored by this commission was released on a Saturday (January 11, 1964) in order to minimize distress to the stock market. Yet its findings still hit the country like a “bombshell”. Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General revealed that cigarette smoking was responsible for a 70 percent increase in the mortality rate of smokers over non-smokers. Smokers had a nine- to ten-fold risk of developing lung cancer compared to non-smokers. The report also named smoking as the most important cause of chronic bronchitis and pointed to a correlation between smoking and emphysema, and smoking and coronary heart disease. It noted that smoking during pregnancy reduced the average weight of newborns.
Fast-forward to 2014 when the Office of the Surgeon General released a new report on smoking that expands the death toll and the list of diseases caused by smoking. This report concludes that 480,000 Americans die each year from diseases now found to be related to smoking. This revised list includes diabetes, colorectal cancer and liver cancer. Smoking also is linked to multiple costly chronic conditions ranging from cleft palate in newborns to rheumatoid arthritis.
Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak states, "The battle is not over. The problem isn't solved. We still have 18% of our adult population smoking. And 5.6 million kids who are alive today will die early unless we take immediate action."
The United States can overcome the morbidity and mortality and human suffering related to smoking and create a tobacco free generation. Recommendations to achieve this goal include educational campaigns, something that nurses and health professionals are skilled in delivering. There are excellent materials already available in government and non- governmental agencies. As the National Nurse for Public Health, the Chief Nurse Officer of the PHS can be a more prominent and authoritative resource to engage many healthcare workers to accurately disseminate anti-smoking messages and to replicate successful anti-smoking programs in their own communities.
The Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Representative Johnson:
The American Federation of Teachers, which represents nearly 80,000 registered nurses working in acute care hospitals, home health agencies, schools and long-term care facilities, is proud to support the National Nurse Act of 2013 (H.R. 485).
The establishment of a full-time national nurse for public health would give long- overdue recognition to the important role nurses play in the public health system, as well as provide an important platform for greater public education on the importance of preventive care, proper treatment of chronic illnesses and the need for emergency preparedness. As you know, nurses are highly valued and trusted by the public, which means they are particularly effective messengers on how to solve the important healthcare challenges facing our communities today.
We deeply appreciate your introduction of this legislation, and gladly offer whatever help we can provide in moving it forward.
Kristor W. Cowan Director, Legislation
The Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson
U.S. House of Representatives
2468 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington DC 20515
Dear Representative Johnson:
On behalf of the more than 2.1 million members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), including more than 1.1 million health care workers, thank you for introducing the National Nurse Act of 2013 (H.R. 485). Creating the position of National Nurse for Public Health would strengthen efforts by nurses in every community to assist in initiating a nationwide shift to prevention to yield improved health outcomes. The National Nurse for Public Health’s support for the Surgeon General’s focus on prevention, developing nurses as community health advocates, and promoting professional nursing is key to the role nursing plays in our nation’s healthcare infrastructure.
The National Nurse Act of 2013 is of particular significance to our 85,000 registered nurses who work in multiple care settings, including public health nursing. The members of the Nurse Alliance Leadership Council, the governing body of SEIU’s nurse members, unanimously support this legislation.
Our nurses are on the frontlines of our healthcare system, and yet the severe nursing shortages our country is experiencing are projected to continue. By elevating the contributions of nurses and enhancing nursing recruitment and education throughout all communities, the National Nurse for Public Health would help address this crisis.
The U.S. currently ranks 19th worldwide in preventable deaths, and current estimates predict a 42% increase in chronic diseases. By promoting health awareness increasing health literacy, and reducing health disparities, the National Nurse for Public Health would play an important role in improving our nation’s health.
As the largest healthcare union in North America, SEIU commends you for your leadership, and urges other Members of Congress to co sponsor this important legislation.
Mary Kay Henry