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Governor Rendell Joins Nurses To Observe National Nurses Week

Armen Hareyan's picture

National Nurses Week

Governor's 'Prescription for Pennsylvania' would expand access to quality care by ensuring providers the ability to practice to the fullest extent of their education, training.

Governor Edward G. Rendell joined representatives of nursing organizations from across the commonwealth today to kick off National Nurses Week and talk about the role that nurses and other health care professionals have in expanding access to quality health care for all Pennsylvanians.

The Governor said his "Prescription for Pennsylvania" health care reform plan would improve quality of health care for everyone and help control rising insurance costs.

"I am proud to be standing here, on the first day of National Nurses Week, with these representatives of Pennsylvania's nursing profession to recognize the key role they play in providing quality health care to people across the commonwealth," Governor Rendell said. "We have an opportunity today not only to thank them for their great contributions, but to highlight the role they would play in expanding access to quality health care for all Pennsylvanians under my 'Prescription for Pennsylvania' health care reform plan.

"Prescription for Pennsylvania is a set of practical strategies that will improve the health care of all Pennsylvanians and make the health care system more efficient and cost effective. One part of the plan includes common sense initiatives that will use all of our health care professionals to the full extent of their education and training by eliminating the barriers they face."

The Governor said outdated limitations and barriers on a nurses' scope of practice, like the "astonishing" fact that Pennsylvania is currently the only state in the nation where nurse midwives do not have the authority to prescribe drugs, make no sense. Nurse midwives currently deliver roughly 10 percent of the babies across the state, a number which is much higher in some rural areas, but they cannot prescribe the necessary prenatal vitamins and other drugs necessary to ensure healthy pregnancies.

In addition to the representatives of more than a dozen nursing organizations from across Pennsylvania, Governor Rendell was joined at today's press conference by state Rep. Mike Sturla, (D-Lancaster), chair of the State House Committee on Professional Licensure. Rep. Sturla announced the introduction of a package of seven bills that will implement the "scope of practice" provisions of Prescription for Pennsylvania.

Rep. Sturla recognized the sponsors of the bills and outlined a schedule of public hearings to discuss the new legislation and encourage public discussion of the reforms.

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Governor Rendell's "Prescription for Pennsylvania" has many initiatives to improve access and quality of health care in Pennsylvania including:

-- Nurses will be able to provide all of the services for which they are trained and educated.

-- Patients will have better access to care through authorized nurse managed care centers.

-- The availability of core primary care options will be expanded to reduce unnecessary expenses caused by overuse of the emergency room for basic treatment.

-- New opportunities for nurses and nurse educators will be created through the PA Center for Health Careers.

-- Clear legal definitions of clinical nurse specialists will be established to better protect both patients and nurses.

-- Nurse midwives will be authorized to prescribe drugs associated with obstetrical and gynecological practices, as well as be reimbursed directly by health insurers for services provided.

-- Advanced practice nurses and other non-physician health care providers will be reimbursed at the same rate as other health care providers when they provide the same services.

-- The state will provide start up funding and logistical support for authorized nurse managed health care facilities and ensure that these facilities are included in provider networks as primary care providers.

National Nurses Week is celebrated annually from May 6, also known as National Nurses Day, through May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. The theme of National Nurses Week 2007 is "Nursing: A Profession and a Passion." This is the 33rd annual National Nurses Week according to the American Association of Nurses.

The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses.