Attacks Highlight Nursing Shortage
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon will likely highlight "underlying problems" in the U.S. health system, including a national nursing shortage, National Journal reports. "In any disaster of the proportions we're talking about here, we realize that the hospital system is something that you take for granted. But all of a sudden, it's the lifeline for survival," Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said. In the United States, staffing shortages in hospitals have reached "dangerous levels," and hospitals have "complained" that low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and large numbers of low-income patients have "strained their finances." Rick Wade, senior vice president of communications at the American Hospital Association, said, "You would never think of doing to police and fire services what's been done to the health system." In recent years, "[o]verworked and underpaid" nurses have left the profession, and nursing school admissions have decreased. In addition, "overcrowded" emergency rooms have forced hospitals to send ambulances to other hospitals. "Ironically," on Sept. 11, the House Education and the Workforce Committee had planned to hold a hearing to address the nation's nursing shortage. "It's easy to see (the) tragedy putting even more focus on the issue," Dave Schnittger, a spokesperson for the committee, said. New York state Republican Reps. Sue Kelly and Carolyn McCarthy, who support legislation to attract more individuals to the nursing profession, had planned to testify at the hearing (Serafini, National Journal, 9/15).