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Reflections From PIC Health Care

From left: Shawn Brown, Theresa Aisevbonaye, Connie Simons and Bill Garrity at the AFT Professional Issues Conference for health care in Chicago, Nov. 11-13.

The conference enlightened me to see the health care professionals in a different and clearer light when it comes to patient care. I see that we are in this together for better health care across the board and we all want the system to get better.  We all want less politics involved in health care because it is not about the bottom line when we are saving lives.

One of the sessions I attended was “Bargaining for the Common Good.” It was the long-term vision for the structural changes that patients want to see in their communities. Everyone is looking for a strong voice and unification between unionized workers and broader community of health care workers, family members and facilities they serve for a better quality of care, progressive outreach and upward statistical outcomes. Accountability and responsibility are definitely essential for the betterment for a healthy community long-term as well as rebuilding a mutual respect and trust in the health care system.

Another session that I attended was “COVID-19 Trauma and Stress,” which touched on how the pandemic has emotionally, financially and physically affected the lives of health care workers and how it continues to impact mental health. Mental health continues to be a major burden on health care workers across the country and can play a role in the families of health care workers. PTSD and other psychological events are becoming more exacerbated and prevalent. There are methods used to aid in these issues, but staffing burnouts because of the shortage of clinical staff and the burden to push to expedite patient through the care system for a bigger profit are taking a toll. One part of the solution to this problem is to encourage more people to become educators to build a stronger path into health care.

Attending this conference made me feel like I make a difference in patient’s lives. Not just because I am a health care professional, but every position in health care is essential and as a union, we are making a huge impression on the country as a united front of equality and change for the greater good. It was great to see the influence we are making efforts to push health care to a higher standard for health and education.

—Connie Simons

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