Leslie Danks Burke Issues Statement About Nursing Shortage

August 25, 2020

From Leslie Danks Burke:

As New York State continues to face a shortage of nurses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Leslie Danks Burke, candidate for State Senate in the 58th district, is renewing her call to protect and support nurses and healthcare workers. A long-delayed report, just released last week, shows that New York would need 70,000 more nurses, including 45,000 for nursing homes alone, yet rural nursing shortages continue to abound.

Back in March, Danks Burke demanded that New York State take action for rural healthcare solutions by sending overdue funding long-promised to community college nursing programs in the 58th district and by temporarily addressing licensing requirements so nursing students can get hands-on experience and work under a nurse’s direction during the crisis. Danks Burke also supports Senate Bill 5000, which would establish a loan forgiveness program for nurses in underserved areas or nursing homes.

A New York State Health Department report was due in December of 2019, which would have been three months prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in New York and could have provided invaluable knowledge over the past eight months. Only released last week, the report’s delay has caused an outcry among healthcare professionals and legislators such as Senator James Skoufis (D-Orange County).

“Just as long-standing and well-known challenges led to the horrific death toll in nursing homes, the lack of investment in healthcare workers has been clear since well before the pandemic hit, and that problem is compounded in rural communities. It’s on the folks who’ve represented our region for decades, through Republican and Democratic administrations, as members of the legislative majority and as members of the minority, that they punted on protecting and supporting our frontline heroes until the middle of a pandemic,” said Danks Burke.

Danks Burke continued, “It’s past time to ensure safe staffing ratios and encourage nurses to enter and stay in the field, by lowering the financial burden of school. SB 5000 has been introduced every Senate session since Mr. O’Mara took office, and he has never once supported it. Our nurses deserve better, and our communities demand the safety that prudent planning would provide.”

Danks Burke has received an outpouring of support from community organizations, labor unions, and political leaders, including endorsements from the New York State AFL-CIO; NYSUT; CWA District 1; the Working Families Party; U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer; Planned Parenthood Empire State Votes PAC; Eleanor’s Legacy; NOW NY; Vote Mama; New York Progressive Action Network; the Tompkins-Cortland and Southern Tier Building and Construction Trades Councils; NYS Council of Sheet Metal Workers; the New York State Laborers Union; UAW Local 2300; IBEW Local 241; National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund PAC; #VOTEPROCHOICE; New York State Young Democrats; and more.

Leslie Danks Burke is an attorney and a longtime advocate for education, healthcare, and rural economic development. She is the daughter of farmers and a mother who, together with her husband, is raising two children in this community. A Democrat, she previously ran for State Senate in the 58th in 2016, outraising incumbent Tom O’Mara by over $200,000 and receiving more voter support from outside her party than any other challenger to a sitting incumbent that year — on either side. Since 2016, Danks Burke has remained a powerful advocate for local community engagement and honest government.