In the smallest and most remote communities across Alaska, public health nurses (PHNs) serve in incredibly significant roles: they are advocates for the health of our children; they are catalysts for health improvement in our communities; they are a valued resource and trusted confidant regarding family health and wellness issues; and they are the safety net for some of Alaska’s most vulnerable residents. That is why the Alaska Nurses Association is urging the Alaska Legislature to reject the proposed budget cuts to the state’s Public Health Nursing program made by the Senate. To underfund public health nursing is to put all our communities at risk.
Public health nurses are a high-quality, cost-effective workforce. They know the communities and the individuals they serve, which allow PHNs to provide localized care and establish relationships with their patients. PHNs work to improve the overall health for a population, providing well child checks, immunizations, high-quality screenings, and prenatal and postpartum care. They often serve on health-related boards and committees, helping to build healthy communities. Their expertise on parenting and safety as well as general nutrition and obesity prevention contribute to the health education of Alaska’s residents. Public health nursing services help build options for community members to choose healthy behaviors, a responsibility that should, in part, continue to fall on the State.
Alaskans have a long history of combating issues that impact our communities, families and individuals — high rates of suicide, alcohol abuse and sexual assault. Often, a public health nurse is the only resource available to individuals who are homeless, suffering from addiction or struggling with mental…
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