Saturday: Nurses Aboard #BernieBus to Get Out the Vote for Bernie Sanders in North Charleston
On Saturday, registered nurses aboard the National Nurses United #Bernie Bus will gather in North Charleston for a final "get out the vote" for the candidate they say best supports nurses' values of caring, compassion and community, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“Nurses have done a bus tour around South Carolina, and we’ve found that a lot of people are really struggling with lack of access to healthcare, student debt, lack of jobs,” said Martese Chism, RN. “We hope they’ll come out and vote on Saturday for the candidate whose policies best work to heal this suffering—Bernie Sanders.”
Over the last three weeks the RNs have traveled through towns such as Denmark, Allendale, Sumter, Santee and Columbia, speaking to voters at community hubs, from barbershops and auto shops to one-stop convenience stores. Along the way, nurses have seen firsthand the negative impact of the economy and assessed the lack of access to affordable healthcare faced by many in the state.
“We stopped at Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), and it was extremely sad to talk to local people about their healthcare struggles,” said Irma Westmoreland, RN. “One gentleman told us the amount he had to spend on healthcare was roughly equivalent to buying a house. These stories just strengthen the resolve to see Bernie Sanders elected, because his stance on Medicare for all addresses the suffering faced by voters across the country.”
On Thursday, the nurses met with students at South Carolina State University and Claflin University, before attending for a rally with Bernie Sanders and Killer Mike at the Township Auditorium in Columbia.
“We talked to people waiting in line for the rally, and I met a man and his sister who had driven seven hours to see Bernie,” said Westmoreland. “I asked why, and it’s the same thing I kept hearing these past few weeks in these rural South Carolina towns where voters feel forgotten: They’re hurting. Their bills are putting them under. We need to rebuild our country, and people are coming together for the revolution Bernie is championing.”
RNs had an especially moving interaction this week with residents of Bamberg, South Carolina, who were left up to a 90-minute drive away from necessary care when Bamberg County Hospital closed in 2012.
“As a critical care nurse, I know that we have to get heart attack patients into the cath lab and open up the arteries within 90 minutes, or the chances of survival are not good,” said Amy Glass, RN, an Intensive Care Unit nurse from Modesto, Calif. “To see people in rural South Carolina without access to healthcare—and without access to the jobs that were taken away when the hospital closed—it’s devastating. Bernie’s commitment to Medicare for all is really resonating with voters here because they feel like to Wall Street and to politics as usual, they don’t matter.”
After speaking with RNs about Sen. Sanders’ support for a $15 minimum wage and Medicare for all, South Carolina voter Curtis Dixon, who picks collard greens to support his four children, expressed his support for Sen. Sanders.
“I’m voting for Bernie,” said Dixon. “We were the very worst state in America for minimum wage—it’s $7.25. I have to take care of my kids. You are trying to pay your water bill, your light bill, and you’re coming out here pulling up boxes of collards to make sure your family is fed. No one in America should have to do that for $7.25.”
“Nurses see first-hand the devastating health impacts of social and racial inequality in this nation and under the current fragmented and flawed system, low income communities, including millions of children, lack adequate health care,” said Chism. “Low income communities can’t afford to pay for needed medications and are the hardest hit by environmental pollution. We believe, as Sen. Sanders does, that access to high quality health care is a human right and should not depend on ones ability to pay. Medicare for All is a cornerstone of Bernie’s campaign and that is one of the reasons we support him.”