Nearly two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, displacing thousands of its residents, the city is still suffering from an urgent shortage of nurses that is reaching crisis proportions. When the storm and subsequent flooding first struck the Crescent City in August 2005, the federal government was widely criticized for its slow response to the disaster. Today, many nursing leaders believe that when it comes to providing aid to help New Orleans rebuild its nursing workforce, the government is once again failing to recognize the seriousness of the problem.

Calling the situation “unacceptable,” the National League for Nursing (NLN), the nation’s oldest professional nursing organization, is urging President Bush to “pay attention to the reality of the dire lack of nurses in hospitals and communities in the New Orleans area.” The NLN points out that while the city has received $110 billion in federal aid to fund recovery efforts such as repairing infrastructure and rebuilding housing, “critical attention has not been paid to the ongoing problem of nurse shortages.”

In a strongly worded letter to the president, NLN CEO Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN, stated, “This shortage of nurses is creating health disparities, inflated costs and poor quality of health care. The lingering situation in New Orleans is unacceptable for anyone in America seeking access to health care.”

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