Another Voice: The State Needs Urgent Mobilization to Save Health Care | Opinion

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Only war-like mobilization will prevent this worst-case scenario, and the state must mobilize all the resources at its disposal as quickly as possible to protect patients and save our healthcare system.

In addition to the measures announced by the Governor, the state must also immediately deploy any emergency support available to relieve overwhelmed hospital systems like Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, and subsidize wage increases to retain employees and attract new ones. We don’t have the luxury of time – we need help right away.

We need to streamline the time-consuming and costly barriers that stand in the way of entering the job market. From stringent licensing requirements to years of schooling that often require tens of thousands of dollars in expensive loans – all of which lead to working under often traumatic conditions – healthcare jobs are out of reach and undesirable for far too many people. Direct student loan relief would be a big step in the right direction.

Finally, we must fundamentally improve hospital conditions, which have been harmed by years of underinvestment due to misplaced priorities in hospital management. Too much money has been spent on executive bonuses, and not enough on basics like personal protective equipment and day-to-day facilities.

Debora Hayes is the regional director for Communications Workers of America, District 1. Cori Gambini is a registered nurse and president of CWA Local 1168.

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