By Jean Forman, RN
I’m a nurse at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. I’m also MNA tri-chair for Abbott and for Phillips Eye Institute. I recently attended a rally at an elected representative’s home to support expanding Medicaid. My journey from a political bystander to an activist has been accelerated by the Allina Metro strike of 2016. I learned so much about how legislation can affect me at my workplace and more significantly how the right legislation can impact the public good. I have been supported at MNA by so many people to get active. So I have tried a few things over the last few years, but I would say the strike and the election last year gave me the impetus to really get out there.
I live in Minnesota Congressional District 2, which is a swing district in the south metro. Jason Lewis was elected to represent this district last fall. I have been trying to reach out to my congressman since January to let him know how I feel about the AHCA, the ACA, and a variety of important topics. I have called, emailed, tweeted, and attended rallies at his office. No response ever.
I was just contacted to participate in a rally at Mr. Lewis’ home. I went as a constituent, a concerned citizen, and a nurse, who has some understanding of what cutting Medicaid means to patients and families that I care for. Our group was organized through TakeActionMN, and we went to speak to Mr. Lewis about his healthcare vote and dialogue with him about what that vote means to real people on Medicaid. With no answer at the door, we proceeded to encourage our speakers to tell their stories. We supported each other and energized each other with rally chants. Our intent was to organize, educate, and agitate. Our message was to protect citizens, protect Medicaid. I thought everyone did a great job!
There has been reaction from Rep. Lewis calling this “dangerous.” Did we cross a line? I guess that depends on your perspective. A mosque was recently bombed in Bloomington, MN. Rep. Lewis gave no public interviews on that. Yet when seniors and disabled people came to his door to ask for help, there are tweets, Facebook, TV interviews, newspaper articles. I will let you decide. I think I took an opportunity to try to reach a public servant who has not been public.
I would encourage anyone who is interested in learning about your rights and responsibilities as a citizen to contact MNA. You will be welcomed by fellow nurses to start at your comfort level. Like me you will be supported and encouraged. The energy is positive and the friendships are amazing.