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Wed May 29, 2019, 10:45 AM

Opinion: Nurses Know the Human Costs of Care.That's Why Many Want 'Medicare for All.'

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Critics say universal health care will penalize providers the most. These nurses are undeterred.

By Jeneen Interlandi

Ms. Interlandi is a member of the editorial board.

May 27, 2019

The experiences that have turned the members of National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union for nurses, into vocal advocates for a universal, government-run health care system are numerous and horrific.

Renelsa Caudill, a Washington, D.C.-area cardiac nurse, remembers being forced to pull a cardiac patient out of the CT scanner before the procedure was complete. The woman had suffered a heart attack earlier that year and was having chest pains. The doctor wanted the scan to help him decide if she needed a potentially risky catheterization, but the woman’s insurance, inexplicably, had refused to cover the test.

Melissa Johnson-Camacho, an oncology nurse in Northern California, remembers a mother who had to ration the special bags that were helping to keep her daughter’s lungs clear. The bags were supposed to be changed every day, so that the daughter did not drown in her own fluids, but they cost $550 each.

And Karla Diederich, also from California, remembers saying a final goodbye to her friend and fellow intensive care nurse Nelly Yap in their hospital’s parking lot. Ms. Yap was dying of metastatic cancer. She was scheduled for another round of chemotherapy, but the hospital had changed owners while she was on sick leave and she’d lost her job — and insurance — as a result. “Nelly spent most of her life taking care of other people,” Ms. Diederich says. “And when she needed that care herself, it was not there.”


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