Much of our work in this arena is behind the scenes: strengthening operations and infrastructure. In 2020, the WSNA Board of Directors added a focus on addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in our organization and our work.
WSNA outlines plan to address systemic racism and health equity #
As for so many organizations across the country, the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020 and the ensuing demonstrations across the country were a wake-up call for WSNA that we needed to step up our efforts to address racism as a public health threat. WSNA published strong statements about the need to address systemic racism and pledged to look inward at becoming a more anti-racist organization — while also looking outward to support initiatives to reduce the health inequities that infect our health care system.
We have held trainings on racism and microaggressions with WSNA staff and board members and are working to infuse all of our work with diversity, equity and inclusion principles.
A key objective established by the WSNA Board of Directors was to produce the Resolution being put forward at the 2021 Washington State Nurses Convention. The resolution sets forth specific actions WSNA will take to put the Board’s commitment to addressing racial justice and health disparities into action.
On May 31, 2020, WSNA posted a statement on social media to stand in solidarity with those calling for justice, to call out racism as a public health crisis and call on our profession to examine the myriad ways racism manifests itself in our health care system.
Our Facebook post reached more than 100,000 people and was shared more than 900 times.
On June 5, 2020, with a peaceful protest by health care workers planned in Seattle for the following day, WSNA’s president and chair of the Cabinet on Economic and General Welfare issued a joint letter to our members supporting efforts led by Black organizations to protest systemic racism and bring attention to racism as a public health emergency.
Move to regional nurses associations continues #
In 2018, the WSNA Board of Directors approved a plan to create Regional Nurses Associations, combining multiple existing WSNA Districts to better meet the needs of members. These professional organizations are supported by a portion of membership dues and are intended to provide educational opportunities, scholarships and networking on a local level. Over the past two years, the transition to regional nurses associations has progressed, with one region completing the transition and another two well on their way.
Rainier Olympic Nurses Association
The former Pierce County Nurses Association has a new name, recognizing the scope of the region that now spans seven counties: Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap, Mason, Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Clallam.
Southwest Region Nurses Association
Encompassing Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties, the Southwest Region Nurses Association has completed paperwork and welcomed a founding Board of Directors. Elections are planned for fall 2021.
Central Washington Region Nurses Association
Plans for the central region, encompassing Kittitas and Yakima counties, are well underway. The new regional association is now registered in the State of Washington and has applied for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status with the IRS as this biennial report goes to press. Founding board members are building the foundation, with a goal of electing the new board in 2021.