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More than 1800 RNs Join National Conference Call to Prepare For Haiti Disaster Relief Mission

Press Release Press Release, 1/14/10

Contact Information | Media Center

For Immediate Release
January 14, 2010

Nurses to Establish Command Center in Miami in Advance of Assignments

With some 4,500 U.S. nurses signed up to volunteer for a Haiti disaster relief mission – and more than 1800 of them participating in a national conference call on Thursday – National Nurses United (NNU) today announced it will set up a command center in Miami to prepare the first team for deployment.

NNU, the nation’s largest union and professional organization of RNs, said it is in contact with the U.S. Defense Department, the Obama administration and others to get teams of nurses on the ground as quickly as possible in the disaster zone where they can provide the desperately needed care for Haiti.

NNU Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro praised the volunteers for their rapid response.  “We’ve never seen anything like this. We have a very heightened sense of urgency, with RNs across the country wanting to be deployed to Haiti. It’s heartwarming to know that kind of humanitarian concern is deeply embedded in RNs.”
 
At present, NNU notes, there are substantial logistic problems for the actual deployment, including the virtual collapse of healthcare infrastructure and facilities in Haiti, severe problems with transport, and many difficulties with a shattered governmental infrastructure on the embattled island.

To that end, DeMoro said, “we need to make sure you are able to go together, and work together as teams and that you are secure so that you take care of other people.” With much of the international focus today on search and rescue effort, NNU said it has found establishment of medical relief efforts to be slower.  “What’s amazing to us is in every disaster the role of the RN is in the background until the relief workers are actually on the ground and then they’re saying where are the RNs?”
 
NNU said it will have a command operation in Miami and in addition to RNs already in Haiti, including members of the Haitian American Nurses Association who are working with NNU, will be flying RNs to Miami to prepare for deployment to Haiti.

The first team of nurses to go is expected to include NNU Co-president Deborah Burger, Haitian American RNs, and nurses who have worked in previous disaster relief programs following Hurricane Katrina and the South Asia tsunami organized by the NNU’s Registered Nurse Response Network.

NNU Co-president Jean Ross described the positive experience of nurses who have worked before in Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN) relief projects. “I’m very proud that our new national organization has organized this kind of unprecedented, tremendous effort.”

“We are asking the hospitals to provide paid time off for the nurses who wish to join this effort. We are also asking the pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies to provide free vaccinations for the nurse volunteers, and others to donate medical supplies for the nurses to bring with them,” DeMoro said.

Those able to support the efforts of these nurses can get involved via:

  • www.NationalNursesUnited.org – sign up to volunteer or donate

  • @NationalNurses on twitter or by following: #haitiRN

  • Call the RNRN hotline: 1-800-578-8225

  • Support the RNRN/NNU disaster relief effort in Haiti by sending checks c/o California Nurses Foundation, 2000 Franklin St., Oakland, CA 94612. Charitable contributions will be used to pay for travel/related costs and medical supplies for volunteer RNs on their emergency nursing mission in Haiti.

The relief efforts are being coordinated by RNRN, a project of the 150,000-member NNU, formed last month through the unification of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, United American Nurses and Massachusetts Nurses Association.  

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