Central Florida Black Nurses Association Of Orlando Attends 36th National Black Nurses Day On Capitol Hill

(L:R) Valtherie Hartwell, Dr. Jennifer Sankey-Battles, Monica Akins, Constance Brown
(L:R) Kerry Mackenzie, Dr. Jennifer Sankey-Battles, Valtherie Hartwell, Monica Akins, Constance Brown
(front to back) Monica Akins; Constance Brown; Valtherie Hartwell; Dr. Jennifer Sankey-Battles

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The nurses of the Central Florida Black Nurses of Orlando, Inc. (CFBNA) are actively involved in health policy making for health equity. On Feb 1, three nurses from CFBNA visited Capitol Hill in Washington, DC to discuss health policies that affect the social well-being of residents in Central Florida.

Central Florida Black Nurses Association of Orlando, Inc. (CFBNA) was established in 1982. In 1994, CFBNA joined the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA). NBNA has 115 chapters throughout the United States, Eastern Caribbean, and Africa.  CFBNA aligns many of it is call to action items with areas of interest that have been identified by NBNA’s Health Policy initiatives. These initiatives are identified annually by NBNA Health Policy Committee.

The NBNA Health Policy Committee established NBNA Day on Capitol Hill to provide a platform for NBNA members to share its expertise, leadership, and recommendations to congressional leaders. This event focuses on congressional health concerns and policies. Congressional leaders including the Congressional Black Caucus members are invited to participate and bring their greetings. Some of the representatives whom presented are Representative Lauren Underwood, Representative Terry Sewell, Representative Johnathan Jackson, and Representative Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick. This event is typically held annually on the first Thursday of February. This year was the organization’s 36th NBNA Day on Capitol Hill. February is also known as heart month so members are encouraged to walk to the Capitol and wear red.

The seven initiatives that were chosen to be addressed this year are the following: 1. Obesity: America’s Calamity; 2. Gun Violence: America’s Epidemic; 3. Climate Change: A Catastrophic Health Crisis; 4. Dismantling Structural Racism in Nursing; 5. Eliminating Health Inequities: Diversifying the Nursing Workforce 6. Implications of Black Infant Mortality; 7. Inequities in Black Maternal Mortality. Several members of CFBNA Health Policy Committee attend this annual event. President, Monica Akins, Immediate Past President, Dr. Jennifer Sankey-Battles and Past President, Constance Brown and Valtherie Hartwell of First Coast Black Nurses Association of Jacksonville met with the legislative aide, Kerry Mackenzie for Congressman Maxwell Alejandro Frost, Tenth District of Florida. During this meeting, members discussed all seven topics and received positive feedback on what bills he supports.

The meeting is established to promote comprehensive efforts to address legislative policies and bills that affect healthcare practices and how they affect communities of black and brown populations. Each initiative was provided a call to action, background data, recommendations to legislators, and testimonies. These testimonies were directly related to member, family members, or the community to those present during the meeting. Please visit NBNA.org to review detailed information regarding each legislative initiative, references, and recommendations to legislators.

In addition to meeting with Congressional leaders, sponsors also addressed their efforts to improve healthcare policies. These sponsors included Pfizer, Defeat Malnutrition Today Coalition, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, PhRMA, National Academy of Medicine, Vitas Innovative Hospice, and Tuckson Health Connections-Black Coalition Against Covid.

CFBNA’s health policy committee will continue to work these legislative initiatives locally. This course of action will include continuing to meet with local officials, providing education to the Central Florida communities, and advocating for NBNA health policy initiatives. Visit CFBNA website, cfbnaoforlando.org, and social media platforms for activities addressing the NBNA health policy initiatives. If you would like to partner or support these initiatives, you can also call CFBNA at 407-476-6862.