About Public Health and Public Health Nursing
Our public health system is at a crisis point. With the health
of our families and communities at stake, we simply cannot afford any more cuts
to public health funding.
Public health and public health nurses are our first line of defense in responding
to disease outbreaks, bioterrorism and in disaster preparedness. They are also the
center of a quality health care system and the most cost effective system for disease
prevention and health improvement.
Washington’s public health system is in jeopardy due to decades of neglect and erosion
in public health spending. The ability of our local public health departments to
perform core functions has already been greatly reduced. Examples of such deterioration
- Increased occurrences of vaccine preventable disease such as measles and whooping
- Increased rates of communicable disease such as tuberculosis and sexually transmitted
- Increased newborn and infant mortality. Decreased preparedness for a terrorist attack,
natural disaster or biohazard emergency.
Clearly, the current system is grossly inadequate. With the continuing
threats of terrorist attacks, natural disasters and pandemic flu, our public health
infrastructure is in dire need of reinforcement. Washington is in immediate
need of a dedicated, long-term, stable and an adequate source of funding for public
health and public health nursing.
For more information, please visit SavePublicHealth.com
Campaign to Save Public Health
An adequate, stable and long-term source of public health funding is a top priority
for WSNA because public health and public health nursing are the foundation of our
health care system. WSNA is addressing both the short-term and long-term threats
to public health with the Campaign to Save Public Health, both engaging the public
now to keep funding on the county level at current levels and working with key leaders
to develop a statewide funding solution for the future.
Billboards and advertisements on city busses have been displayed
throughout the metropolitan Seattle and Spokane areas.
WSNA launched the Campaign to Save Public Health in the fall of 2008 in response
to the looming crisis. The immediate goal was to prevent counties in the state from
making dangerous cuts to public health funding in the face of budget shortfalls
while also working to secure a long-term, stable and adequate funding source for
the future. An initial four week advertising campaign in Spokane, King, Snohomish
and Whatcom County featured billboards and bus boards while our press effort included
guest opinions and editorials and letters to the editor. Most importantly, we launched
SavePublicHealth.com so that individuals could learn about public health and get
engaged in the issue.
Since then, the crisis in public health funding has only gotten worse. The 2009
Legislative Session is shaping up to be one of the most difficult in recent years.
However, despite the challenge of creating a balanced budget, it is absolutely imperative
that state government maintains its funding for public health. More and more families
will be facing financial hardship in the coming year, so the need to strengthen
our public health safety net is now more critical than ever.
To extend the ‘Campaign to Save Public Health’ through the entire Legislative Session
and expand its reach, WSNA has joined with a new coalition of partners. Building
on the success of WSNA’s billboard, busboard and newspaper editorial campaign in
the fall, the new campaign features television ads across the state, internet banner
ads, and billboards. Starting in January and running through April, this new effort
will focus on engaging the public and giving people the tools to get involved in
the issue on the state level as it’s discussed in the Legislature.
Public Health Summits
In addition to launching the education and outreach campaign, WSNA has provided
leadership in bringing together key stakeholders in public health ranging from public
health district administrators to government officials to leaders of health care
and advocacy organizations.
With dangerous funding cuts being proposed in counties across the state, WSNA planned
and hosted the ‘Summit on the Public Health’ in early September. The goal was to
identify how the attendees and organizations represented could work together to
protect public health funding as counties moved through their budget processes in
In December, WSNA hosted the ‘Action Summit on Public Health’ as county budgets
were being finalized and focus was shifting towards the growing state budget shortfall.
This second forum was held to follow up on the initial efforts of the 'Summit on
Public Health' and start building a real plan to save public health this year and
in the future. Tthe Action Summit garnered even more interest and participation
than the first.
WSNA will continue to be a leader in promoting funding for public health and public
health nurses. Public health nurses are on the frontlines of the system and witness
everyday the positive impact that public health has across communities throughout
the State. As Registered Nurses, we all understand and see the consequences everyday
of the crumbling public health system in Washington State. The severity of this
crisis and potential for long-term impact on health in Washington demand our immediate
and far-reaching action.