As nurses, we were thrilled when the President announced during his State of the Union speech that you will be spearheading a comprehensive program to reduce childhood obesity. As you well know this is one of the fastest rising epidemics in our country.
If we are indeed to make a difference and truly reform health care, then one of the most important steps we can take is to be proactive and prevent illness and complications. A large portion of skyrocketing health care costs can be attributed to paying for complications of preventable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Obesity plays a huge role in these diseases and complications.
In the process of educating children about preventing and reducing obesity, families will also become involved, which will have an added benefit of reducing another epidemic; adult obesity. This too will help to reduce the high costs of health care.
Nurses are the perfect messengers to help your campaign educate the children and adults about this very serious health problem. The American Nurses Association has chosen as the 2010 Nurses Week theme, Nurses: Caring Today for a Healthier Tomorrow. Engaging nurses as a partner in this program is a natural in promoting health awareness and reducing disparities. Health care illiteracy is a tremendous problem in this country and nurses know how to work with this and promote wellness.
An annual Gallup Poll has shown repeatedly that the American public feels nurse are the most trusted and ethical profession. In fact, in the last decade, nurses were only toppled from this position once by the very deserving firefighters in 2001 following 9/11.
Another poll recently conducted by Gallup in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that next to doctors, nurses are the most trusted profession in conveying health care information. In fact, this poll also showed that the American people want to hear even more from nurses about health care issues and reform.
As you reach out to government agencies to enlist their help in this effort, nurses should be high on your list. We hope you will look to one of the most important grassroots efforts trying to bring nurses into a more prominent national public health care role, the National Nursing Network Organization (NNNO).
Among so many important challenges facing nurses and health care today, an Office of the National Nurse would:
- Elevate the Chief Nurse Officer (CNO) of the US Public Health Service to full time status within the Office of the Surgeon General to become the National Nurse to enhance prevention efforts in all communities.
- Complement the work of the US Surgeon General.
- Promote involvement in the Medical Reserve Corps to improve the health and safety of the community.
- Incorporate proven evidence-based public health education when delivering prevention.
As President Obama said during his campaign, “change doesn’t come from the top, it comes from ordinary Americans with vision and ideas.” The Office of a National Nurse began as an idea and a vision of Teri Mills MS, CNE, RN in an op-ed in the New York Times in May of 2005.
In 2006, Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), herself a BSN RN, introduced HR4903 to the 109th Congress to establish the Office of a National Nurse. Today the NNNO, continues this grassroots effort to establish an Office of the National Nurse to promote health care literacy, wellness and slow growing epidemics of preventable diseases and conditions such as childhood obesity.
Members of the NNNO will travel once again to Washington DC March 24-26, 2010 to discuss this issue with members of Congress. It would be wonderful if they could also meet with you to discuss partnering with you on fighting childhood obesity. To contact the President, of the NNNO, please email Teri Mills at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for undertaking the challenge of reducing childhood obesity and elevating this issue to national attention.
Kathy Quan RN BSN PHN
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Mrs. Barack Obama
The White House
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Washington DC 20500
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