MNA Nurses and Healthcare Professionals Join Healthcare Watchdog and National Nurses United in Calling for the Creation of an Independent Presidential Federal COVID-19 Committee
MNA signs letters to White House, U.S. Senate leaders as omicron burdens healthcare system and lack of consistent COVID-19 approach persists
CANTON, Mass. – The Massachusetts Nurses Association has joined Health Watch USA and National Nurses United in sending letters to the White House and U.S. Senate leaders calling for the creation of independent Presidential Federal COVID-19 Committee to replace the task force disbanded at the end of the Trump Administration and provide outside expertise to build public trust and data transparency.
“Hospitalizations are reaching an all-time high and our healthcare system is on the verge of collapsing, with some patients needing urgent care not able to promptly obtain it,” Health Watch USA, the MNA and NNU wrote to White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “In addition, state reporting of SARS-CoV-2 infections has become erratic. Our country’s response to the COVID crisis has been reactive, lacking in transparency, and derailed by infighting and political divides.”
Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, founder and board chair of Health Watch USA also submitted a comment to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions on Thursday, Feb. 3. For copies of the February 3 committee note and January 15 letters, email firstname.lastname@example.org. USA Health Watch is a Kentucky-based non-profit that seeks to promote health care transparency, quality, and affordability. The group has been among the leading independent voices addressing the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. National Nurses United, with more than 175,000 members nationwide, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in U.S. history.
The following are the key reasons cited in the joint letter for the need to establish an independent Presidential Federal Advisory Committee for COVID-19 under the Biden administration:
- Public trust of government agencies is in decline. Therefore, policy based solely on advising from federal employees is likely to be met with more resistance than policy formed by an independent committee.
- There has been a lack of transparency concerning data collection and policy making. It appears that data from the Health Ministry of Israel and Public Health England has been used to guide policy. While data from elsewhere in the world can be useful for forming policy, citizens need to understand how U.S. data forms US policy.
- The COVID crisis demands timely decisions and actions. We are concerned that because most senior advisors on the coronavirus response team hold leadership positions in federal agencies, advising is mired in bureaucratic stagnation. This was exemplified by the slow authorization process of vaccines in children and the changing recommendations regarding boosters in adults, despite adequate data existing for both of these interventions.
In January, the MNA sent Gov. Charlie Baker a letter seeking immediate action to safeguard frontline caregivers, patients and communities during the current COVID-19 surge by instituting a State of Emergency through the end of March 2022 and addressing issues ranging from hospital visitor policies and N95 masking to quarantine procedures and school nurse resources.
“Two years into this pandemic, we are now at a place we all feared. Healthcare workers are overwhelmed and burned out,” Murphy wrote in the letter. “Healthcare facilities are overrun with both COVID-19 patients and those individuals who delayed care throughout the pandemic, and the system is buckling under the pressure. We are closer than we have ever been to the collapse of the healthcare system.
“It must be recognized that this current staffing crisis has been years in the making, as hospital administrators have implemented policies that drove tens of thousands of qualified staff away from hospital nursing as a result of strategic efforts to understaff hospitals to generate greater operating margins,” Murphy wrote. “The pandemic has only exacerbated this situation and demonstrated the systemic lack of understanding and appreciation of the role and value of those providing direct patient care.”
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.