AACN's Washington Weekly

Published September 16, 2020

AACN’s Participation in the Research!America’s 2020 Virtual National Health Research Forum

On September 8-10, Research!America held their 2020 Virtual National Health Research Forum. This three-day summit included virtual sessions with top Administration officials and Members of Congress as well as healthcare experts, including AACN’s President and CEO Deborah Trautman. Top panel discussions included:

  • Public Health Preparedness and the Hard Lessons of COVID-19. As one of the panelists, Dr. Trautman underscored the need for coordinated national responses to public health challenges so education, practice, and private partners can work together to effectively address these crises.

  • Science on the Front Lines. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Alex M. Azar II, outlined best practices in limiting the spread of COVID-19, including the 3 W’s: Wash your hands, Wear your mask, and Watch your distance. The Secretary also highlighted that in addition to the pandemic, HHS is still working vigilantly on health system transformation, price transparency, telehealth, and addressing the HIV epidemic and opioid crisis.  On day two, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director, Dr. Anthony Fauci stressed the importance of vaccinations, trust in science, and continued vigilance.
  • Health Equity: Making Measurable Change Happen. Panelists discussed various topics including social determinants of health, workforce diversity, and disparities in healthcare access. They also recognized that COVID-19 only made these disparities more transparent and discussed what actions can be put in place to create a more equitable healthcare system.

To listen to these and other panelists from Research! Forum, click here.

NIH Welcomes New NINR Director, Dr. Shannon Zenk

On September 14, the National Institutes of Health welcomed the new National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) Director, Shannon N. Zenk, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN. Dr. Zenk has a wealth of experience as a registered nurse, educator, and researcher. Her background as a professor in the Department of Population Health Nursing Science at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) College of Nursing and a fellow at the UIC Institute for Health Research and Policy, along with her expertise in addressing socioeconomic health disparities, veterans’ health, and community health will be a great asset as she begins this new role. AACN looks forward to working with Dr. Zenk as we continue to support current and future nurse scientists and researchers. For more information on Dr. Zenk and her appointment to this position, click here.

COVID-19 Legislative and Advocacy Updates:

AACN’s Comments on the Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine

On September 4, AACN submitted comments on the National Academies of Medicine’s Discussion Draft of the Preliminary Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine. AACN emphasized that nurses need to be at the table as decisions around vaccine development and distribution are made. AACN also outlined that top-tier recipients of a vaccine should be essential frontline workers, those with underlying health conditions, and communities most at risk. This discussion draft was part of a study commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health in an effort to create a COVID-19 vaccine distribution framework that is fair and equitable. To learn more about this discussion draft, please click here. To read AACN’s comments to the committee, click here.

Senate HELP Committee Holds Virtual Hearing on Vaccines

On September 10, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing titled, Vaccines: Saving Lives, Ensuring Confidence, and Protecting Public Health. Witnesses at this hearing included the U.S. Surgeon General, VADM Dr. Jerome Adams, and the Director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins. Dr. Adams and Dr. Collins stressed the importance of childhood and adult immunizations, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the equitable distribution of vaccines throughout the nation, particularly in communities of color. In addition, both urged the public to get the flu vaccine this fall and continue to practice the 3 W’s. In concluding remarks, both witnesses reiterated the importance of a well-funded public health infrastructure to combat COVID-19 and the need to be better prepared for future public health crises.

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