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Yes, folks, I still read the Maine news from where I am now.
I still have an active Maine R.N. license, and I am still a member of ANA-Maine, the professional association for nurses in the Pine Tree State, and I was very pleased to see that the current officers are continuing a proud tradition of activism as they speak for nurses and patients.
Disclaimer: I am not presently an officer and I am not authorized to speak for the Association. I support their position against the MaineCare cuts, wholeheartedly.
I got the ANA-Maine position statement on the proposed MaineCare cuts, via email and I wish to chime in.
The Bangor Daily News added a piece on the impact of the proposed cuts, to the hospitals and health systems of Maine. There isn’t much I can add, except that Maine is already struggling. You have a state with vast distances, weather challenges that tend to isolate people, and a system of small hospitals that are critical to the communities they serve.
Part of daily life is to do your chores, and I propose that every RN in Maine add the following chores to their list.
1) find out who your State Representative is. You can go to the State of Maine website, go to the list of towns, and click on it.
2) find out who your State Senator is. similar to the above, go to the State Website.
3) It goes without saying, that you should send them an email or a Tweet, or write a letter on the subject of how the cuts will affect you personally, but more importantly, how the cuts will affect the health services in your town. This is doubly important if your rep or Senator is on the Health and Human Services Committee or the Appropriations committee. One person can make a difference.
4) attend a meeting of your town’s Republican or Democratic Town Committee. It doesn’t matter which. Health is a bi-partisan issue. Go to the one you feel comfortable with. Raise the issue of the budget cuts there, when you go. Get the email contact info of the town Chair, and get their Twitter info while you are at it. Twitter will allow you to keep abreast of issues in “real time.”
5) offer to meet with your Representative or Senator when they are back home in the district. Give them a tour of your workplace (obviously, you need to get permission) and work to educate them as to what you do. You may be surprised to learn that they may not actually know what nurses do, or what your agency or hospital does, or how many people you serve. This is true regardless of which party they belong to – Republican or Democratic.
6) Organize. nowadays, through FaceBook and the internet, this is easier than it used to be. Join the FaceBook page for nurses opposed to the cuts. Start collecting email addresses of other nurses, start forwarding news to other nurses. send your list of email addresses to ANA-Maine, so they can add you to the list.
7) work to elect candidates who know the value of nursing and what nurses do. As above, this can be nonpartisan, because health is a nonpartisan issue. 2012 is an election year.
8) join ANA-Maine. you can invest in the future of nursing. Many of the state budget cuts are the result of federal policies, since one of the major parties in DC is doing everything they can to cut budgets and obstruct. We won’t succeed in Maine unless we can get help from Washington, DC
9) write a letter to the editor, start a blog, change the conversation. One of the reasons the politicians think they can make these cuts is, they never see any opposition. We need to change the conversation away from one in which MaineCare is somehow the enemy, and toward the idea that there are vulnerable persons who need help on a daily basis, to lead their lives. It’s true. They are there. The average citizen doesn’t see them every day, but nurses surely do. Every Mainer deserves dignity and respect. Just because they suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, or mental illness, or physical disability, does not take away their humanity.
10) share this list of activities with every Maine nurse you know. Click on the little button, below.we can do this, together.
and while you are at it, read my book about health care in Low Income Countries. People complain about Maine’s health system, but they often have no idea about how most of the world does by comparison…..my book will not help you preserve Maine’s system, but it will remind you as to why we all do this job…….. hint: it’s not for the money!