The Ryan White CARE (Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency) Act has facilitated tremendous advancements in the treatment of HIV and AIDS, particularly with regard to connecting people living with HIV to care and keeping those individuals in care. Specifically, the development of Early Intervention Specialist (EIS) services and Medical Case Management (MCM) services have made a significant impact on low-income people living with HIV.
When the Ryan White Care Act was passed 25 years ago, Congress was responding to a national health emergency that was overwhelming our Nation, particularly hospitals and health clinics in large urban areas. People were dying because there were no effective long lasting treatments and the only option was just AZT. Emergency funding was needed to help pay for hospital beds, doctors and nurses, drugs, hospice care, and the city and state public health systems that were struggling to respond to the epidemic.
With National Nurses Week concluding recently, I’m proud of the contribution my fellow nurses on the front lines do for the communities in which they serve each and every day. Our health care system is stronger because of nurses who continuously put the patient first.
As a nurse, I’ve found one of the most rewarding aspects of my profession and chosen path is the ability to advocate for patients not just at the bedside, but also at the policy table. Nurses are in the unique and privileged position of caring for patients holistically: before, after, and during treatment. This approach can be extended to the lawmaking process, where a nurse’s voice is valuable in communicating how new policy or regulatory proposals would impact not only the health care system but patients themselves, and their families.
Like I do on every National Nurses Day, I pause and reflect. So much has changed in the past 33 years since the day was officially recognized and is celebrated by millions every year. Yet so much remains the same. Nurses are at the heart of caring for patients and their families. According to the annual Gallup Survey, nurses are the most trusted profession. They are integral partners in care coordination.