'Urgency is now.' Nurses walk to NC legislature, ask lawmakers to do more, renew push for 'SAVE ACT'

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Wednesday, March 29, 2023
NC nurses march to General Assembly, renew push for 'SAVE ACT'
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be more than a million nursing vacancies by next year

On Tuesday, the North Carolina Nurses Association held their annual Day at the Legislature to advocate for some of the recent issues that have plagued the nursing industry.

The 800 attendees began at the Raleigh Convention Center, before walking up Salisbury Street to the Halifax Mall to hear from legislators, and then hold meetings with their representatives. The event hasn't been held in person since 2019 due to the pandemic, which also brought major disruptions to the industry nationwide.

"To state the obvious, there just aren't enough nurses," said graduate nursing student Laura Andrews. "So somewhere has to give."

Amid the current statewide and nationwide nursing shortage, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be over 1 million nursing vacancies by next year.

NCNA President Meka Ingram says the problem is just getting worse.

"We can no longer operate like this, we are burning out and fizzling out fast," she said.

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On Monday, many in the healthcare industry felt emboldened when Gov. Cooper signed Medicaid Expansion into law. But with 600-thousand soon-to-be covered North Carolinians falling under that umbrella, politicians are warning that another step needs to be taken.

"That provides economic access for services," said state Senate Majority Leader Paul Newton. "That doesn't mean if we do nothing, that the services will be there."

Advocates at the event Tuesday are making a renewed push for the "SAVE ACT", which would give full practice authority to a segment of nurses currently boxed out.

Ingram says progress on all fronts needs to be made soon.

"It's now, we got to do this right now, the urgency is now," Ingram said.

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