On the birthday of Florence Nightingale (May 12, 1820), the founder of modern nursing, nurses from Akron Children’s Hospital and other Akron hospitals had the opportunity to meet and ask questions of a legislator closely involved with healthcare policy.
The nurses’ appreciation event featured remarks and Q & As with Rep. Jim Renacci, of Ohio’s 16th District. Renacci serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees revenue-related aspects of the Social Security and Medicare programs.
Renacci told the group he greatly admires and appreciates nurses having grown up with a mother and aunts who were nurses.
Before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2010, Renacci founded a successful company that owned and operated nursing facilities throughout the region, a certified public accounting firm, and several other business ventures.
Renacci, a Republican, began his talk stressing the importance of the 2 political parties working together to get things done in Washington.
During his freshman term, Renacci teamed up with U.S. Rep. John Carney, a Democrat from Delaware, to begin a breakfast club with about a dozen other colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
“They are not a committee, they are not a caucus; their group does not really even have a name. But in the 112th Congress, what they are is sort of remarkable,” wrote the New York Times in a 2011 story about the bipartisan group.
Renacci talked to the nurses – from Akron Children’s, Summa Health System, Akron General Medical Center, Aultman, and Robinson Memorial – about his concerns about the rising cost of healthcare, the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the working poor, and the challenges to keeping a strong workforce of highly skilled doctors and nurses.
Citing factors such as the escalating cost of a college education and low salaries, Renacci said, “I am concerned that people may be turning away from health care careers.”
In the Q & A session, the discussion covered such topics as the preparedness of younger nurses who find themselves caring for high volumes of patients, many high acuity; the amount of time nurses spend on documentation rather than actual patient care; the possibility of creating residency programs for nurses; the possibility of offering different educational tracks for nurses based on career goals; and the role of advanced practice nurses in helping to reduce health care costs.
Akron Children’s President and CEO Bill Considine noted similarities in the adoption of the Affordable Care Act with the legislation to implement the Medicare program in 1965, and the need to tweak laws to make them better.
“The Affordable Care Act is now the law of the land,” Considine said, “but I wonder if our industry has not been as proactive as it could have been in the process and perhaps we should be getting our ideas on the table to Rep. Renacci and other members of Congress. We can and should be architects of change.”