Two more years - President's column
By Jeff Breslin, RN, President
First, I want to say thank you to everyone who re-elected me as the president of the Michigan Nurses Association for a second term. I greatly appreciate your confidence and will do my best to continue to represent MNA to the best of my ability.
As I think ahead to the next two years, I have to reflect on the past two years. As president, I’ve seen MNA members move outside the workplace and begin taking a strong stance on things that affect our profession and our patients. I’ve often said from the podium that as nurses, we didn’t sign up for speaking out publically. That’s not our nature. We’re the behind the scenes people. As I jokingly told the crowd during the 2011 Lansing State Journal Salute to Nurses, "Most nurses don’t like being in the spotlight at all. They’ll order a spotlight, run a spotlight, teach someone how to run a spotlight, but they would prefer that the spotlight never be turned on them at all. It’s our nature to be moving behind the scenes, making sure things are being taken care of and functioning as professionally taught health care providers."
Watching our nurses take on the Main Street Contract is gratifying work as well. From soup kitchens to bookbags filled with school supplies to marching in Lansing and San Francisco and Washington, DC, MNA members are grasping that our voices as the most trusted profession are desperately needed. As health care providers, we’re seeing the effect on the gap between the wealthy and the working families in increased health concerns, lack of health insurance, more people using the ER as their family doctor and so forth. The Main Street Contract will be a major focus for MNA in the next two years. I invite you to be a part of the action! Go to your LBU meetings and find out more information, then watch the MNA website (www.minurses.org) for upcoming events. Plan on being a part of an event at your LBU as well!
I’ve also seen nurses having to take a hard line with their employers. Hospitals across the country are using the economic environment to plead poverty when many of them have very positive operating margins and are in no need of nurses taking concessions. Nurses in our LBUs (Local Bargaining Units) have had to fight for nursing protections that they’ve worked for decades on to build into their contract. The sky is the limit for these employers and it will take the hard work of each member in our LBUs to make sure that health care providers are protected and respected for their practice. If hospitals can find the money to build new buildings and as in the case of the new Mott Children’s Hospital at University of Michigan Health System, put shells from Michigan beaches in the flooring of their new foyer, then money should be available for proper equipment and enough nurses for appropriate staffing. Nurses should be compensated and benefits should be provided that keep experienced nurses in practice and lowers the need for recruitment and retention expenses.