Recently, hospital officials issued a cry for public awareness regarding the proposed state funding cuts and the effects they will have on physicians and medical services. As a critical care nurse, I was appalled to see only physicians referenced. A team of nurses, pharmacists, therapists, and many other staff are needed to care for citizens of a community and, as a team, we are affected.

The $330 million debt to hospitals is currently being felt in staffing cuts, reduced overtime pay, and limited use of per diem workers. Not only is the lack of payment hindering hospitals’ services, but pending legislation, LD 2044 – prohibiting payment to correct mistakes or adverse events – will also impact the system.

As a citizen, I applauded this safety initiative, but as a nurse experiencing staffing cuts, sicker patients and increased insurance demands, it is a task that is destined to fail. If hospitals are unable to maintain safe staffing levels, provide educational services, recruit and retain staff, then it is all citizens who suffer.

The hospital executives are correct in saying a call to action is needed. Not only will the public wait longer for health services, but that staff member, with multiple responsibilities, may be worrying if their job is next to be cut.

The skill and knowledge required to care for patients not only takes physicians, it takes nurses who are there 24/7.

The public should demand quality care, because any one of them might need a nurse some day,

Jacqueline Turcotte, Durham

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