No one has written to “Ask Greta” about today’s topic, but I’m compelled to ask the question myself. If we are successful in providing universal healthcare coverage for every man, woman and child in the US, who exactly will be the worker bees dispensing that healthcare? If the skilled workers don’t exist and the schools are churning out as many graduates as possible, where are they going to come from? It’s not that I am opposed to universal healthcare, just the opposite, but in reality I’m not sure we have a roadmap which takes us from just sounding good to reality.
In my obsession over the 2008 presidential primaries, I have immersed myself in everything from the debates to news magazines, daily newspapers and countless hours in front of CNN. I know there are 47 million Americans without health insurance. I know the lack of universal healthcare is the face of the father who buys groceries as opposed to health insurance, the middle-aged American who has chest pains but does not seek medical care, babies who are born every day without adequate prenatal care and emergency rooms being used routinely as doctor’s offices.
People without health insurance don’t take care of the basics. They simply do without and that leads to crisis, emergency care and even death. They don’t go to the dentist and they don’t go to the eye doctor. No one wants this, but beyond the question of how will we pay for this care, how will we provide it?
Who should be asking the questions? Developing the plans? It doesn’t matter who eventually wins the White House, it is impossible for anyone—even in eight years—to solve the problem of not having enough employees to sustain adequate healthcare in this country unless serious measures are taken. As someone who lives this challenge every day, I don’t know how to open the channels just to staff what we need today, much less staff on a much larger scale.
Congress is aware of the problem. They passed a bill which was designed to educate more Registered Nurses and then they just simply declined to fund the bill. It was meaningless. Loan forgiveness programs for healthcare providers are going the way of the big music stores. Educating science based professionals is expensive, but state-supported schools are being asked to take financial cuts because funds are being funneled elsewhere. Children are being left behind every day and they present to the Human Resource Department ill-prepared to work in a hospital setting. Healthcare providers are being asked to educate the employees as well as provide service to the masses while finding ways to drive money to the bottom line.
There are few areas being asked to do more than the average healthcare HR Department. We hire more people each year from a smaller pool of candidates and we generally do it with fewer resources. I’m all for universal health care, but it would be irresponsible not to ask the presidential hopefuls to take the rhetoric one step further.
It is impossible to mandate/legislate people who do not exist. As leaders in healthcare staffing are we doing everything we should to take that line of thought into reality? Are we the ones who should be asking the questions? And, demanding the answers? Our career health as well as the general health of the American public depends on it.
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