Newswise — Park Ridge, Ill. (AANA)—As rural America continues to struggle with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) joined 15 other healthcare organizations urging Congress to bring equitable access to care in rural America and bridge the rural divide.
Members of the Rural Health Action Alliance (RHAA), a coalition of healthcare providers and facilities who provide high-quality, evidence-based care to millions of Americans, recently sent a letter to House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, and Senate Leaders Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Chuck Schumer outlining policies that would improve rural health outcomes during the pandemic and beyond.
Members of the RHAA noted that even with declines in new cases of COVID-19 during the past few weeks, the death rate in rural America continues at record levels. It has also become clear that rural America faces an uphill battle on vaccine deployment compared to urban areas. To help curb the devastation caused by COVID-19 and help deploy the vaccine to all corners of the United States, members of RHAA are calling on Congress to build upon the December appropriations and COVID-19 relief package to pass more needed relief for rural providers.
“Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural settings and have been instrumental in delivering care during this public health crisis,” said AANA President Steven M. Sertich, CRNA, MAE, JD, Esquire. “The pandemic has illustrated the disparities that exist in our healthcare system, and it is vital that relief packages and healthcare delivery policies address the unique challenges facing rural healthcare providers, both in the delivery of care and in provider reimbursement.”
In the past decade, 120 rural health facilities have closed. With nearly 1 out of 5 Americans living in rural communities, access to healthcare can be a daily struggle that impacts preventative and emergency care. For healthcare to remain a viable industry in rural areas, RHAA is asking Congress to permanently remove unnecessary regulations that were waived during the pandemic, including physician supervision requirements for CRNAs, and keep in place flexibilities to telehealth.
“Providing quality care to patients where they live, without long car rides, helps keep communities healthy. CRNAs can play an important role in providing this life-saving care management,” said President Sertich.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, nurse anesthetists across the country have been essential in addressing the deadliest part of the disease in addition to providing top-of-the-line anesthesia care. They have served as experts in airway management, hemodynamic monitoring, management of patients on ventilators, and overall management of critically ill patients.
RHAA is committed to continuing to collaborate to support rural health and healthcare. The AANA joined the National Rural Health Association, American Podiatric Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Psychological Association, National Association of Rural Health Clinics, American Optometric Association, National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, National League for Nursing, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and American Physical Therapy Association.