LETTERS for October 12 issue
What a wonderful time to be a Luna!
Congratulations to the Lahainaluna football team for recently pulling off an overtime victory over the Maui High Sabers.
Sue D. Cooley Stadium was so packed to brim with fans of both teams that one could hardly find an empty seat to watch the Saturday night battle.
Things seemed grim early in the game, with the Sabers taking a dominant early lead. But, the Luna players did not give up. To the contrary, the Lunas dug deep and found a way to work together to succeed, displaying heart, courage and determination as one team!
This struck me as indicative of our Lahaina community itself. Lahaina has a rich history of perseverance through seemingly impossible odds because we found ways to successfully work together.
We should all be very proud of our Lunas – not only for a hard-fought victory, but because they mirror the values of the community they so proudly represent. Keep up the great work, Lunas!
REP. ANGUS MCKELVEY, Lahaina
The nurse shortage isn’t a partisan issue
The nation is rapidly growing grayer and more ethnically diverse. Today, about one in seven Americans is 65 or older. In less than 15 years, one in five Americans will be there – a percentage that will continue to rise.
Meanwhile, the Census Bureau projects that by 2044, over half of all Americans will belong to an ethnic group other than non-Hispanic white. By 2060, nearly one in five Americans will be foreign born. These demographic shifts will strain a healthcare system ill-prepared for it.
Case in point: America’s looming nurse shortage. The largest component of the healthcare workforce, nurses play an indispensable role in the provision of healthcare. But in the years to come, the demand for nursing services will outstrip the supply – all the more so because of the 20-plus million people who gained access to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act.
In this environment, the skills of nurses – and specifically, advanced practice nurses – will be especially valuable. Averting any shortfall will require policies from Washington aimed at making the most of those who enter the nursing profession.
Advanced practice nurses possess a higher level of medical expertise, training and decision-making authority than traditional registered nurses. The quality of care these nurses provide is excellent. In one study, the health outcomes of primary care patients treated by advanced practice nurses were as good as those for patients treated by physicians.
In many cases, patient satisfaction was higher for those who were treated by advanced practice nurses. Moreover, the versatile skill set of these nurses makes them well-suited to provide services to populations that would otherwise be underserved. Clinics staffed by a nurse practitioner can make a huge difference in areas where the nearest physician is far away.
Shifting demographics will also reduce the supply of nurses. The average age of a working registered nurse is over 50, and nearly half of our 2.7 million nurses will reach retirement age within the next 15 years. Nursing schools aren’t producing enough graduates to provide the 1.2 million new nurses our nation will need by 2030. A lack of resources forced nursing schools to turn away more than 64,000 qualified applicants in the 2016-17 academic year.
On this front, there’s much that lawmakers can do, starting with providing healthcare and educational institutions with the resources to train more nurses. They can allocate more funding towards Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development programs, which support nurses practicing in underserved communities, nursing diversity grants, the National Nurse Service Corp, and nurse faculty loan forgiveness.
Congress should also remove barriers that prevent advanced practice nurses from making full use of their skills. Last year, the Department of Veterans Affairs amended its rules to allow advanced practice nurses to do everything their training and certification empowers them to do in any VA facility. Congress should follow the VA’s lead and override onerous state restrictions, allowing advanced practiced nurses full practice authority.
Not all healthcare reforms need to inspire partisan conflict. Common sense reforms to avert a nursing shortage deserve the support of both parties and are essential to cope with our coming demographic upheaval.
SHELDON D. FIELDS, New York Institute of Technology
Reinstate ban on assault weapons to prevent mass killings
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the nearly 600 victims and their families of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history in Las Vegas. The mass carnage made that city into what can only be described as a war zone. But our response needs to include more than prayers and moments of silence. We need to act to prevent more mass shootings, which are now occurring at an average of more than one per day.
The weapons of choice for such mass shootings are known as assault weapons. They were designed for the battlefield, which is the only place they should be allowed. They can rapidly fire bullets as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger. They were easily adapted by the shooter to become automatic weapons in which a single pull of the trigger can spray bullets with no pause.
The hopeful news in taking on such a monumental but urgent challenge is that New Jersey has banned such weapons since 1991, and they were banned nationally from 1994-2004. Tragically, the national ban had a sunset clause after ten years, so it automatically expired when then-President George W. Bush refused to seek its renewal.
New Jersey’s assault weapons ban is a good basis for the feasibility of a renewed national ban.
The fact that we were successful in breaking the NRA’s stranglehold in New Jersey at least partly inspired the successful effort the next year to pass the National Assault Weapons Ban.
Despite the fact that unlike the New Jersey ban that included a grandfather clause, reputable studies showed that the national ban resulted in a nearly two-thirds reduction in shootings with assault weapons.
We can seek to pass a National Assault Weapons Ban again. We need to press to have it introduced and voted on before the 2018 Congressional elections.
In the 2006 midterms, the Coalition for Peace Action helped make the Iraq War a litmus test issue, and the majority of those elected were opposed to that war.
Readers interested in learning more or getting involved in such an effort are urged to visit peacecoalition.org and click the Ceasefire NJ icon on the right.
REV. ROBERT MOORE, Coalition for Peace Action