National Nurses United

Registered Nurse July-August 2009

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LET TER FROM THE COUNCIL OF PRESIDENTS as a registered nurse, you may have noticed and been worried by reports this summer that outbreaks of H1N1 influenza, known by the more popular name of swine flu, have continued popping up at U.S. summer camps, and that the virus appears to be going gangbusters in the southern hemisphere, where it's winter. And those who have studied the great flu pandemic of 1918, which killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide, know that the virus' first circulation through the population during a spring was relatively mild, but that the second and subsequent waves were lethal, utterly overwhelming countries and their burgeoning healthcare systems. Does any of this sound too familiar? Meanwhile, our hospital employers and many health officials seem to have buried their heads in the sand. A special survey CNA/ NNOC conducted in August of nearly 200 hospitals nationwide revealed that the vast majority of facilities are unprepared for the deluge of swine flu cases that will likely hit this fall. Many are not adopting, communicating, and consistently following Centers for Disease Control and state and county infection control protocols. Others are not providing proper equipment, such as N95 respirator masks that fit correctly, or enough negative pressure isolation rooms. And some hospitals have regressive leave policies that encourage RNs to come to work sick. We RNs are hardly surprised by these results. We've already witnessed too many disturbing incidents where hospitals unnecessarily risked the health and safety of their healthcare workers and of patients by being unprepared or REGISTERED NURSE,™ (ISSN 1932-8966) The Journal of Patient Advocacy, July|August 2009 Volume 105/6 is published by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, 2000 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 946122908. It provides news of organizational activities and reports on developments of concern to all registered nurses across the nation. It also carries general coverage and commentary on matters of nursing practice, community and public health, and healthcare policy. It is published monthly except for combined issues in January and February, and July and August. Periodicals postage paid at Oakland, California. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Registered Nurse, 2000 ™ Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 94612-2908. To send a media release or announcement, fax (510) 6630629. Registered Nurse™ is carried on the CNA/NNOC website at adopting misguided policies (one hospital actually gave its nurses one N95 mask per shift that they had to reuse). We're also sad to report that one of our members in the Sacramento area, Karen Ann Hays, RN, died of swine flu on July 17. In response, RNs are sounding the alarm and demanding that hospitals protect their employees, patients, and communities. We have been staging actions at dozens of facilities, discussing our report and position statement on H1N1, testifying in front of state legislatures, and alerting and updating our RNs through flyers, our website, and online webinars. You can read more about our activities in this issue, and you can bet that there will be more as fall and winter approach. Also in this issue, check out our annual summer book review special and one of our Chicago nurse's first-hand account of traveling to Geneva, Switzerland to help formulate global AIDS policy on workers. In the next issue, we will report back about our September House of Delegates convention, which represents the culmination of our hard work over the past five years to build a national nurses union to lead a national nurses movement. Representatives from both United American Nurses and the Massachusetts Nurses Association will be attending, and we'll be laying the foundation for the official formation of our "super union," National Nurses United, this December. It's shaping up to be an interesting fall. Let's all be sure to stay healthy so that we can be there for our patients when they need us. Deborah Burger, RN | Geri Jenkins, RN Malinda Markowitz, RN | Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents For permission to reprint articles, write to Editorial Office. To subscribe, send $40 ($45 foreign) to Subscription Department. California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee also produces California Nurse, which it will ™ continue to publish periodically. PLEASE CONTACT US WITH YOUR STORY IDEAS They can be about practice or management trends you've observed, or simply something new you've encountered in the profession. They can be about one nurse, unit, or hospital, or about the wider landscape of healthcare policy from an RN's perspective. They can be humorous, or a matter of life and death. If you're a writer and would like to contribute an article, please let us know. Our contact information is in the masthead. executive editor Rose Ann DeMoro editor Lucia Hwang graphic design Jonathan Wieder communications director Charles Idelson contributors Hedy Dumpel, RN, JD Donna Smith photography Jaclyn Higgs Lauren Reid

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