Healthcare Advocates Helping Patients Make Critical Health Decisions

Healthcare in modern times can be confusing even for those trained in the medical field. To this end, Betty Long founded the Guardian Nurses Healthcare Advocates, in order to provide support to patients in need of a knowledgeable nurse to explain insurance claims and provide information about better treatments.

Guardian Nurses Healthcare Advocates assist their communities with health care plans and the health care system. Advocates are available to patients of all ages and races, regardless of the patient's condition. These advocates do their part to help those who need help most find affordable care, great resources and good insurance.

The Guardian Nurses Healthcare Advocates was founded in 2003 by Betty Long, RN, MHA. A few months later, her advocacy grew with the addition of three nurses assisting ten clients. This group was tested in 2005 by 7,500 police officers with a pilot program through Law Enforcement Health Benefits in order to determine the effect of nursing advocacy on health care costs.

Guardian Nurses Healthcare Advocates were publicized in 2006 by their inclusion in the Pennsylvania Small Business Centers' Client Exposition entitled, We Mean Business, applauded as one of Pennsylvania's best small businesses. The same year, the Law Enforcement Health Benefits group expanded their relationship with the Guardian Nurses Healthcare Advocates as a result of almost two million dollars in claims' savings during the pilot program.

Since 2006, a number of Pennsylvania based businesses and unions have signed on to take advantage of the know-how provided by Betty Long's advocacy group. Guardian Nurses has become a certified Women's Business Enterprise. Long herself has been praised for her good deeds and effective business management, nominated for Small Business Association's annual Entrepreneur of the Year Award and honored by Glamour Magazine and Tag Heuer North America for her good works in the community.

Patient advocates sit in on doctor's appointments, and can help confused patients sift through the medical jargon and insurance lingo to find the best course of treatment. Most of these patient advocates are former nurses and health care workers. Former nurses and health care workers are perfect applicants for patient advocacy positions, with the experience needed to understand physician instructions and help figure out insurance claims.

Because of their health care experience and nursing degrees, the patient advocates working with the Guardian Nurses Healthcare Advocates often have resources not available to members of the lay community. With connections to insurance companies and knowledge of nearby specialists, the Guardian Nurses Healthcare Advocates can provide information and more that can't be found anywhere else.

Patient advocacy is not a new concept. More and more people every year look to patient advocates for more ease in health care. Because of groups like Guardian Nurses and the complexity of the medical field in modern America, patient advocacy continues to develop. Advocates aid in the paperwork side of recuperation, helping their patients get better faster and easier.

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Illinois Nursing Scholarships

The John C. Dunham Trust, a philanthropic organization located in the Aurora area of Illinois, has started a grant that will support Illinois area nurses pursue higher education.

The John C. John C. Dunham initiated the Trust over ten years ago, and the money was put into effect two years ago. The Dunham Trust is designed to increase the quality of life in Illinois and particularly in Aurora. In order to achieve this goal, the Dunham trustees have focused on assisting organizations and charities that improve health and health care, helping Dunham's desire to make the world a more comfortable, safer place for mankind to live and prosper come to fruition.

This nursing scholarship, known as the Dunham Nursing Scholarship, is awarded to nursing students in the Aurora area, and is aimed towards offsetting the cost of education for nurses of all levels of education, from undergraduate to post graduate. The Dunham trust has already helped dozens of students pursue higher education, with $210,000 in scholarships awarded to college students from Aurora.

The Dunham Trust group has joined with health care professionals in Illinois, the Kane County Health Department, the Rush Copley Foundation, Aurora University and Dreyer Medical Clinic among other groups in order to fund the $750,000 nursing program. This scholarship was created in the hopes of encouraging nurses to become high-functioning, well-educated members of a nursing team.

The scholarship program, which awards almost a million dollars in scholarships, is distributed to at least 40 students every year between July 2009 and June 2011, assisting approximately 120 students enrolled in nursing programs during its years in service. This scholarship program, in unison with President Obama's health care reforms and stimulus bills, will make it easier than ever for aspiring nurses to fund their education.

Those awarded scholarships will have aid determined by their location. Aurora and Waubonsee students will see at least a 75% level of coverage as a result of the scholarship. In order to receive the scholarship, the student must have lived in the Aurora for at least a year. Applications are accepted beginning October 1. The funders of this scholarship make up the review board who judge applicants.

While continuing their education, scholarship recipients will work with the Dunham Trust on healthcare community service projects. At graduation, the now-accredited nurses are contracted to work in Aurora for at least two years.

Scholarships from the John C. Though the Dunham Trust isn't limited to Aurora Area, the majority of money awarded goes to applicants from Kane, DuPage, and Kendall counties. This area, between Illinois State Routes 38, 59 and 47 and US Route 34, is known as the "Aurora Area." Applicants from other areas may be considered, but Aurora applicants are given preferential consideration.

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Japan's Answer to the Nursing Shortage

Japan has created its own answer to the global nursing shortage: the robot. Japanese engineers have spent the last three years developing an improvement to the 2006 design of the Riken Ri-Man. The Ri-Man, a robot capable of lifting 40 pounds, was created to help nurses lift patients in and out of wheelchairs and beds. The new model, the Riba, can carry more and moves faster than its predecessor.

The RIBA, which is short for Robot for Interactive Body Assistance, was thought up by the Riken research institute, and can carry more than three times as much as the Ri-Man. Engineers are hoping that the RIBA will be making its way into Japanese health care centers by 2012. This reflects a general trend in the Japanese workforce: researchers everywhere are looking for robotic ways to replace human workers in an effort to cut costs and increase efficiency.

The RIBA is designed to look like a teddy bear in order to prevent patients from fearing the health care robot, as anthropomorphic robots have been known to cause anxiety with humans. Engineers covered the robot with soft skin and foam padded arms that provide comfort to the patient, and this four and a half foot tall robot can lift up to over 130 pounds. Strangely, the RIBA is outfitted with sensors to recognize faces and voices, and is capable of answering to as many as thirty commands.

Although the RIBA does not replace the function of the nurse in Japanese hospitals, the robot will greatly assist in the lessening on the burden on nurses. Dr. Toshiharu Mukai, the Riken research team leader, stated that "We have developed RIBA because we want to help caregivers when they are required to transfer patients between hospital beds and wheelchairs." As the physical stress of moving patients can place a huge toll on the job satisfaction of nurses, the RIBA protects nursing staff from the back and leg problems that affect nurses.

Could this same technique be used to alleviate stress on an over worked nursing population in America? Like Japan, the United State's health care infrastructure is being compromised by an increase in the elderly population, while younger people are entering fields other than nursing.

Robots have actually been proposed as part of the solution to the problem of health care, along with increased funding for education and wider acceptance of online nursing programs. Colin Angle, the CEO of iRobot, a company that designs robots as dissimilar as bomb-defusers and vacuum cleaners, has suggested that robotic telepresence devices could cut the number of health care workers needed in hospitals by providing the sick and the elderly with care at home.

These telepresence devices would act as a primary care proxy. The robot would be capable of examinations, diagnoses and prescription scheduling. Consequently, the patient would only need to enter a hospital, putting a burden on the workers, for care available no where else. Though the telepresence device may take years to develop and test, it is a promising proposal for overburdened health care workers looking for a little bit of outside help.

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Obama Speech to American Nursing Association on Health Care

During his campaign for office, President Obama made a strong speech to the American Nurses Association pushing for changes in United States health care infrastructure.

Obama discusses his health care plan with key stakeholders
In June of 2008, Senator Barack Obama included the American Nurses Association as one of the major stops on his campaign trail. At the time, not the decided candidate for Democratic President nominee, Obama spoke with Rebecca Patton, the president of the American Nurses Association.

During this speech to the ANA, Obama addressed his health care experience, thanking the Illinois branch of the American Nurses Association for their work together during his time as a senator. As Chair of the health care committee, one of Obama's biggest roles was working to create an affordable health care plan for his constituents, a goal he still has today and has been working towards with his health care reforms.

During his time as the Chair of the health care committee, Obama shadowed a nurse during her daily rounds and got a personal look at America's health care. With 47 million Americans lacking health care insurance, as a result of lobbyists and drug companies pushing their own agendas over the needs of United States citizens.

The Senator criticized current health care plans and proposed alterations, stating that McCain's plan was basically the same as the plan in effective during the Bush administration. These health care plans do little to help the average American, rewarding wealth and affluence with health, while those without the means to buy a health care plan go without care.

Obama then described then-Senator Clinton and his plan - the Democratic view of health care. Both politicians hoped to create a plan that extended service to all that need it, not just to those that can afford it. The Senator referred to his proposal as a "health care plan," not a "disease care plan." One of the main aspects of this plan, that would allow Obama to increase insurance coverage would be assisting employers responsible for providing insurance by reducing premiums. This would help relieve the strain on nursing by putting a plan into effect that doesn’t increase workload untowardly.

Further than preventative health care services, Obama stated plans to pay nurses accordingly. By paying nursing professors better, the Senator believes that more nurses will pursue nursing careers and participate in specialized online nursing programs. In addition, Obama hopes to offset the costs of tuition and education by $4,000, preventing nurses in need from going into debt, and by providing full ride scholarships to nurses working in underserved hospitals.

Obama addressed the nursing shortage, praising the hard-working nurses who do more than their fair share in order to support their patients. However, he derided the industry for creating an inefficient work environment, incapable of providing adequate care to patients. In order to fix the problem, Obama hopes to monitor nurse-patient ratios by implementing health information technology that not only protects and provides for patients, but that streamlines the administrative process. He also proposed instituting a limit on overtime.

These changes in the nursing profession would make great strides towards increased retention and recruitment to the health care industry by improving work environments, increasing the job satisfaction of nurses already working, and drawing new nurses into the field.

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