March 04, 2010

Help A Sista Out

* We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for this important public service announcement *

My classmate, Kathryn, passed along some pretty upsetting news yesterday.  Deanna, Kathryn's close friend and former co-worker, is currently a senior SRNA set to graduate in December of this year from The Medical College of Georgia's Nurse Anesthesia Program.  Due to state-wide budget cuts, however, MCG recently announced that nursing anesthesia was on the list of academic programs facing possible eradication.  One of two CRNA schools in the state of Georgia, MCG has no plans in place to assist those students who have sacrificed their time, money, and family's happiness to complete their graduate nursing degrees.

This greatly upsets me on a number of levels.  As an individual, I find it reprehensible that an institution of higher learning would undermine the hard work and success of their students without considering their future well-being and establishing a plan to aid them as they struggle to realize their goals elsewhere.  I am a current nurse anesthesia student who is working hard to positively represent my school academically, professionally, and personally and am greatly disappointed to see a college fail to reciprocate that same commitment to it's student-body and faculty.  And finally, as a citizen with high hopes of one day contributing to the success of an affordable and sustainable universal health care plan, I find the decision to eliminate educational programs that are producing cost-effective health care practitioners (CRNA's provide relatively inexpensive and high-quality anesthesia services to millions of individuals the world over) both short sighted and damaging to the future of our nation's health care infrastructure and, ultimately, the well-being of our ever-growing patient population.

Whether you work in heath care or are simply a patron of those who do, please take the time to read Deanna's plea and make your feelings known by contacting one (or more) of the many influential individuals she has listed below.

- Amy

Hey all-

I'm emailing, of course, in response to what is currently happening to my MCG program. Many of you have so graciously given words of encouragement and of sympathy after the announcement that was made this week in regards to the MCG CRNA program cuts. As you are well aware, I, and many of my colleagues, are very upset about what this means to those of us currently in the program (I'm not going to lie, I'm a little embarrassed that there is a picture of me crying on the front page of the Augusta Chronicle). But, I suppose I have the right to be upset, as the doom and gloom picture was painfully painted by Dr. Goldstein, MCG Provost, and William Bowes, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration, during our town hall meetings held yesterday in Augusta. In these meetings, they informed us that the legislators asked them to make educational cuts in the sum of 25.6 million dollars at the Medical College of Georgia ALONE. In their knee jerk reaction to obtain this budget cut goal in the allotted 48 hour time period, they chose to do away with various nursing programs, dental hygiene programs, respiratory therapy programs, technical programs, and, of course, the graduate nurse anesthesia program. They unilaterally chose to do away with the CRNA program with no input from the Dean of Nursing, and the University President. If the legislation approves these budget cuts, the MCG Nursing Anesthesia Program will be closing on June 30, 2010. During the town hall meeting, I approached the microphone of a packed auditorium and asked Dr. Goldstein and William Bowes point blank if the CRNA students would be allowed to graduate despite the impending cuts. The answer at that time was a solid "NO." When I asked if they had come up with a plan to have students of the CRNA program be phased into another program, they said "we have made no plans for any of our students." My heart sank, and I felt a pang of anger as I heard them utter these words so effortlessly. So what now?

After a day of more rational thinking, I, along with many others, believe that the nurse anesthesia program is being used as a "playing card" in an attempt by MCG to pressure the legislature to avoid inevitable budget cuts. However, as Chancellor Davis announced today during the budget appropriations meeting at the Capitol, he CLEARLY stated one thing that I cannot shake. He told the University that they should not place anything on their proposal that they are not willing to cut in its entirety. So, I take him seriously, and sincerely hope that you do too. The CRNA program is 100% in the budget cut--I've seen it written in there. In a stack of written verbiage, we are on page 25 or 26 of a long and confusing list, and we are a small, but clearly written sentence that they thought we would accidentally overlook. On the contrary!

I spent the majority of the day today speaking with Senators, members of the Board of Regents, and members of the House of Representatives at the state Capitol. My classmates and myself spoke with anyone and everyone that would listen. If they had a name badge, I chatted them up like they were my biggest ally. I am asking you to do the same. 

Now, if you know me well, you know that I am not particularly political, and I am not extremely savvy in regards to what occurs in the State Capitol on a day to day basis. However, I will tell you that I made a discovery today during the budget cut meeting. It's a simple discovery that I will share with you: THE SQUEAKY WHEEL GETS THE OIL. More than one legislator today said, "I've been bombarded with emails and phone calls." Despite our biggest efforts to contact them all, many did not speak about getting bombarded with emails or phone calls from the MCG CRNA students (although we tried all day yesterday). The truth of the matter is, we are a small group. So, we need all the help we can get.

As a personal favor, I am asking you to email and call (AND email and call again, and again) the people below. Be professional when you email them or speak to them. Do not yell or scream. Be intelligent in your approach. Tell them in your own words what you think the long term repercussions of this budget cut would entail. I've included some talking points for those of you that are not CRNAs or CRNA students. Be aware that MOST legislators have NO IDEA what it is that we do. Many think we are anesthesiologists and many think we are undergraduate nurses. We need to educate them and inform them. 

Talking points:
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) are advanced practice nurses who are the hands-on providers of approximately 32 million anesthetics given in the United States each year.  They administer every type of anesthetic, work in every type of practice setting, and provide care for every type of surgery or procedure, from open heart to cataract to pain management.
- The MCG Nurse Anesthesia Program is the only STATE funded CRNA program. Elimination of this program would leave no other options for students seeking a Masters of Science in Nursing Anesthesia in the state of Georgia. This would push potential graduate students to seek this program in other states. Once a nurse anesthetist leaves the state for their education, they are not likely to return to the state of Georgia. What does this mean? It leaves the rural areas of Georgia underserved by nurse anesthetists, forcing patients to seek care in the overpopulated metropolitan areas. 
- In the rural setting (populations of approx. 25,000) CRNAs provide a large portion of anesthesia care. In many instances, CRNAs are the SOLE anesthesia providers.  
- We are affordable to the rural communities we serve, allowing a cost-effective means to surgical procedures that would otherwise be financially unobtainable if provided by an anesthesiologist.

I'm sure there are many more things you can say...I'm just drawing a blank, and my eyes are beginning to cross. Feel free to call me if you have questions about what to say. Bottom line is: Annoy them! If they get mad and annoyed, call twice more! Just be professional.

This is a personal favor that I am asking of all of you. Believe me, I am scared. Many of you have asked me what you can do for me. Well, this is it. I am actually begging you. Feel free to pass this along to whomever you think might help in my fight to graduate and keep the MCG CRNA program alive.

Below you will find quite a few people to contact directly. If you know legislators personally, please call them too. If you know of people that would like to know, contact them as well.

Much love and thanks,


President Dr. Azziz can be reached via the MCG Operator at 706-721-0211
(Recently named the new President of MCG)

Barry Goldstein- MCG Provost: 706-721-4014 

William Bowes, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration: 706-721-2901

R. Bryan Ginn Jr., Vice President for External Affairs: (c) 706-495-2147, (o) 706-721-4413
Willis Potts: (c)706-233-1379, (p) 706-802-1313, (had a great conversation with him today...very receptive to our concerns)
Kenneth Bernard Jr.: 770-920-8350
James Bishop: 912-264-5859
Frederick Cooper: 404-467-0905
Larry Ellis: 770-458-3773
Robert Hatcher: 478-746-8005
Felton Jenkins:706-342-3564
W. Mansfield Jennings: 478-783-4001
James Jolly: 706-226-2317
Donald Leebem: 770-302-3000
William H. NeSmith: 706-548-0010
Doreen Stiles Poitevint: 229-246-8577
Wanda Yancey Rodwell: 770-879-5700
Kessel Stelling: 770-751-4778
Benjamin Tarbutton: 478-552-5151 x 208
Richard Tucker: 404-463-0592
Allan Vigil: 678-364-3673
Larry Walker: 478-987-1415

R.M. (Mickey) Channell, GA House of Representatives, District 116
706-453-1230, 404-656-7855

Senator Tommie Williams, President Pro Tempore, District 19
404-656-0089, 912-526-7444

Austin Scott (he is running for GOVERNOR) 

Representative Mike Cheokas, District 134
404-656-0325, 229-924-7823

Honorable Sonny Purdue, Governor, State of GA: 404-656-1776
Honorable Casey Cagle, Lt. Governor, State of GA: 404-656-5030
Honorable David Ralston, Speaker of the H.O.R.: 404-656-5020

Honorable Jack Hill, Chairman of Senate Appropriations Committee: 404-656-5038

Honorable Ben Harbin, Chairman of House Appropriations Committee: 404-463-2247

Honorable Seth Harp, Chairman of Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education: 404-463-3931

Honorable Earl Ehrhart, Chairman of House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education: 404-463-2247

Honorable Lee Anderson, House of Representatives: 404-656-0298

Honorable Ben Harbin, House Appropriations Committee: 404-463-2247

Honorable Barbara Sims, GA House of Representatives: 404-656-0213

Honorable Bill Jackson, Georgia State Senate: 404-656-5114

Honorable Gloria Frazier, GA House of Representatives: 404-656-0265

Honorable Henry "Wayne" Howard, GA House of Representatives: 404-656-6372

Honorable Quincy Murphy, GA House of Representatives: 404-656-0265

Honorable Earnest Smith, GA House of Representatives: 404-656-6372

Honorable Hardie Davis, GA State Senate: 404-656-0340

Honorable J.B. Powell, GA State Senate: 404-463-1314

Julia M. Kerlin, MCG Lobbyist, Assistant Vice President for Government Relations Division of University Advancement: (c) 706-836-9343, (o) 706-721-4413

Casey Cagle 404-656-5030
Tommie Williams  404-656-0089
Mitch Seabaugh 707-304-0652
Chip Rogers 404-463-1378
Dan Moody 404-656-5035
Robert Brown 404-656-5035
Tim Golden 404-656-7580
David Adelman 404-463-1376
Bill Heath 404-651-7738
Bob Ewing 404-656-5040

David Ralston 404-656-5020
Jan Jones 404-656-5072
Jerry Keen 404-656-5052
Edward Lindsay 404-656-5024
Donna Shelton 404-656-5025
Jeff May 404-656-5025
Allen Peake 404-656-7146
Dubose Porter 404-656-5058
Carolyn Hugley 404-656-5058
Calvin Smyre 404-656-0116
Nikki Randall 404-656-0109
Kathy Ashe 404-656-0116

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