National Nurses United

Registered Nurse July-August 2007

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TOC:2 8/15/07 2:43 PM Page 2 LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT this summer, thousands of our fellow RNs are deep in negotiations over their contracts and a common takeaway always seems to crop up: a major erosion of healthcare benefits. Whether it's through limiting choices of doctors and plans, cutting benefits, or making us pay higher copays and portion of premiums, our access to the very services that we provide is under attack. Yes, it's a sad commentary on the state of affairs for the whole system when we nurses, who spend our whole lives caring for others, are fighting tooth and nail to hang onto access to affordable, quality healthcare. The cloud does have a silver lining, though: These battles help remind us that we are not immune from the dire situations of many of our underinsured and uninsured patients, and that we must lobby with all our might for the comprehensive solution of universal healthcare based on a single-payer model, like providing Medicare to everyone. That way, these kinds of struggles over healthcare at the bargaining table will become a relic of the past. I am really looking forward to that day. To strategize how to accomplish these kinds of goals, and more, the 2007 House of Delegates will be convening in Sacramento, Calif. from Sept. 10 to 12. It's our largest House ever, with nearly 1,000 RN delegates, RNs from other organizations, and guests expected to attend. As those of you who've attended a House of Delegates convention already know, the House is a time to learn, to network, to build leaders, to plan, and also to pat ourselves on the back for our successes. We'll also be celebrating CNA/NNOC's entry into the AFL-CIO, the national labor federation. This year's REGISTERED NURSE,™ (ISSN 1932-8966) The Journal of Patient Advocacy, July/August 2007 Volume 103/6 is published by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, 2000 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 94612-2908. 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 theme is "RNs in Motion," and we'll update you soon on what plans and decisions emerge from our gathering. As always, in our July/August issue, we have compiled our summer book reviews, to give you something to chew on while you're hopefully taking a well-deserved vacation or just lounging in the yard. There's a lot of fascinating information there, about the search for the world's first antibiotic, about the medical care of African Americans in the 19th and 20th centuries, about the current healthcare reform debate, about medical ethics. I highly recommend checking it out. And to end on a more somber note, in this issue we have the second part of a story writer Erin FitzGerald introduced to us in May 2007: the turmoil and suffering in California's prison medical system and the drastic measures under way now to reform it. Before, Erin described the crisis from the vantage point of an RN working in the system; in this issue, she tells the story from the perspective of inmates who try desperately to survive behind prison walls despite the medical system. To me, the inhumane medical treatment of prisoners is just another manifestation of how poorly our system treats all patients. For, really, what is the difference between denying a dying person AIDS medication because he is an inmate and denying a dying person AIDS medication because he can't afford it? When we finally start thinking of and treating all people as humans deserving of healthcare just because they are humans, that's when we'll start seeing real change. Deborah Burger, RN CNA/NNOC President 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 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 associate editor Erika Larson graphic design Jonathan Wieder communications director Charles Idelson contributors Hedy Dumpel, RN, JD photography Jaclyn Higgs, Tad Keyes

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