What are the challenges? Where are the bright spots? What do they think is needed from policymakers to make care more affordable and accessible? What drives their perspective?

Parkland Health & Hospital System, Dallas


I continue to be both humbled and impressed by the care and compassion Parkland’s front line staff show to our patients each and every day. They know all too well the impact that poverty and the lack of health insurance can have on our patients. They witness our patients’ struggle with chronic diseases, addictions and behavioral health conditions. And at times these same medical professionals who care so deeply are subjected to potentially violent outbursts from patients who are simply trying to cope with a myriad health care conditions. Yet Parkland’s employees continue to be among the strongest and most passionate advocates for the health and well-being of our patients. They want the Legislature and Congress to create a health care system that is more affordable and accessible to all. They are tired of the rhetoric and polarization of health policy discussions. They want to see action, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because they fervently believe health care should be one of the top priorities of those who have been elected to serve.

UMC Health System, Lubbock


The biggest challenges come down to cost containment, maxed-out census and staffing. Trying to keep costs down isn’t easy. Our nurses hear it every day. Budgets are being reduced and waste. Our hospital is overflowing every day, which makes every minute of every shift more demanding for our staff. And the nursing shortage is getting worse. It’s hard to find experienced nurses and new graduates need a lot of orientation and training, which adds to overall higher costs.

Quality improvement is truly a bright spot in our hospital. The American Nurses Association Magnet program has brought has brought a different perspective and allowed for more communication, transparency and standardization. All of those do add up to make days even busier for the staff but the improvement work meaningful and rewarding. Nursing is diligent to follow up on issues in effort to identify root causes and implement corrective action plans. I think many of our staff see telemedicine as a means to make care more affordable and accessible, while balancing the trend toward consumerism.

CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System


When I walk through our hospitals and I speak to those at the forefront of delivering compassionate care, they are straightforward — and rightfully concerned — about the people they care for and about their patients’ emotional and mental health.

Northeast Texas is no different from anyplace else in the state, in that behavioral health services — or the lack of those services — drives serious complications in many of our patients and makes treating some patients’ physical and behavioral health a true challenge. As a health system, we do our best to meet these needs, but we are often limited in what we can provide. Primary behavioral health care can’t only be found in a fast-moving emergency department, and transitional care from an acute care hospital to a lower level of care is critical so that we can fulfill our goal of truly integrating and successfully treating a patient.

That means lawmakers must recognize and do something about a new payment system for services that currently are not covered or available. Support services that address the social determinants of health are crucial for those we serve. Once our patients leave us, they need to have a place to go, access to affordable medications and valuable social services. In many cases, they just need the basics: food, medications and shelter.

Otherwise, they end up back in the emergency room. Our associates live by our mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. They make a difference in people’s lives with every conversation or touch. The hours are long and the situations they sometimes find themselves in are unbearably tense. That’s why we owe them our support. They’re looking after their community’s most vulnerable and most sick, and we owe it to them to help by giving them the resources they need to make a difference in their patients’ physical and mental health.