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Economic Crisis Putting More Americans in Peril, Say Nurses.

RNs to Propose New Agenda, a Main Street Contract in DC Gathering

More than 150 Massachusetts Nurses Will Attend the Events

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. economic crisis has severely accelerated a health emergency for more and more Americans, says the nation's largest professional organization and union of registered nurses which will bring more than 800 RNs from 31 states to Washington this week to propose a new agenda to heal the nation.


National Nurses United, which represents 170,000 RNs, will convene a conference Monday and rally Tuesday outside the White House, Chamber of Commerce, and Congress, calling for a re-charting of national priorities with a Main Street Contract for the American People. They will be joined by labor and community allies with up to 1,000 expected at the rallies.

Monday, June 6: "Assault on Our Lives, Our Patients, Our Communities; Our Response" 10 a.m. to 12 noon, Marriott Wardman Park, 2660 Woodley Road NW

Tuesday, June 7: 8 - 10 a.m. -AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray, Washington Marriott Wardman Park, 2660 Woodley Road NW, Washington DC

10:45 - 11:45 a.m. - Rally, Lafayette Square, Picket, Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H Street NW, Washington DC

12:15 - 1 p.m. - Rally, Upper Senate Park, 200 New Jersey Ave NW, speakers include U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer, Bernie Sanders

The nurses are linking enduring economic hardship to broad declines in health and living standards for substantial segments of the U.S. population. Low wages, unemployment, hunger, substandard housing and declining access to education and health are cited by the RNs as the source of serious harm to communities across the nation.

Health conditions nurses identified as linked to the current prolonged economic decline include stress-induced heart ailments in younger patients, especially in men in their 40s; hypertension; pancreatitis, typically an adult disease now increasingly found in children due to high fat diets linked to low incomes; a range of "gut" disorders, such as colitis; increased obesity linked to poverty; manifold mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders, in youth populations; and higher asthma rates with reports surfacing of deaths as a result of the delays tied to poverty or insurance obstacles.

"Every day patients call me to say that are putting off a procedure, like a colonoscopy, because they cannot afford the co-pay," says NNU Co-president Deborah Burger, RN. "Employers change the terms of health insurance coverage, raising costs to workers, and many do not know it's happened until they show up in need of care and are shocked and embarrassed and unable to pay."

"People are going without care at a time when stress-related illnesses are up," says Jean Ross, RN, a NNU co-president. "Mental illness is enormous and largely untreated."

"Stress-induced illnesses are growing-'gut' disorders in people of all ages, even kids," said NNU Co-president Karen Higgins, RN. "It is all stress from economic circumstances."

"People are working harder than ever, two or even three jobs to make ends meet. Often it's tied to a problem in the household or extended family-unemployment or sickness," Burger added. "Men in their 50s, engineers who were laid off and living in my community, have given up looking for work. There is nothing out there."

"We see extreme angst in children-serious anxiety disorders. They are worried about whether Mom and Dad have jobs and they hear the talk about losing the house. Patients cannot afford to be out of work, so they are coming to work ill and with symptoms," Ross said.

"RNs are scared and nervous. Some are single moms, others have laid off spouses, and their paycheck is critical. Many work an extra shift or two to get by. Many of us have to put off retirement," Higgins noted. "We are back involved in the lives of our parents because they are aging and vulnerable and do not have the resources to get by."

The fallout in health indicators and other quality of life indicators from galloping inequality and deprivation is stark, say the nurses in testimonials that sometimes refer to their own homes and families. The RNs cite a sharp rise in the health woes that they say have a direct connection to the economic crisis; a number say conditions are the worst they have seen in careers that span up to four decades.

The nurses have put forward an agenda to stop economic decline and protect American families, The Main Street Contract for the American People. They are calling for jobs at living wages; guaranteed health care for all; equal access to quality education; good housing; protection from hunger; a secure retirement for everyone; a clean and safe environment; and a fair and just tax system in which Wall Street and those with the most wealth pay their fair share.

National Nurses United represents 170,000 RNs, with members in every state, and is one of the fastest growing unions in the U.S. In the past 18 months, since NNU was formed through the affiliation of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, United American Nurses, and Massachusetts Nurses Association, NNU has organized 10,500 RNs at 23 hospitals in eight states.

SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 6, 2011
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