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Dear Editor:
Thank you for featuring Jose Latour's article "Nursing Shortage Blamed For Boy's Death".

Unfortunately, this tragic incident is far from isolated. As U.S. nursing schools close their doors and the national shortage of RNs continues to grow, deaths in hospitals due to mistakes in treatment are responsible for more deaths than autmobile accidents.

Mr. Latour is correct. All the legislation in the world is not going to cure the problem if nursing is no longer a popular career choice for Americans. Our country had a very successful temporary visa program for RNs from 1952 to 1995. In each of these years, 5,000 to 10,000 nurses entered the U.S. using temporary visas. This program should be restored as a necessary first step in addressing the nursing shortage.

Last year, I testified before the Senate Immigration Subcommittee about this problem, and assisted the staff of Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) in drafting legislation to restore the temporary visa problem. The result was the "Rural and Urban Healthcare Act of 2001" (S.1259) which was introduced in the Senate on July 27, 2001. Unfortunately, because of pressure from the nurse unions, this bill may never be considered by the Immigration Subcommittee.

How many deaths will it take before Congress realizes that the health care of Americans is more important than taking sides in the constant bickering between health care providers and nurse unions?

Carl Shusterman


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