Minnesota Nurses Pay it Forward, Help Struggling Patients with Medical Debt

June 20, 2017 08:20 AM

Almost 1,800 families are getting life-changing news: that members of the Minnesota Nurses Association are paying off those Minnesota families' medical debt.

In fact, one could say the nurses are paying it forward.

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The Nurses Association says that during the 2016 Allina nurses strike, many members of the community came to the nurses' aid. They say strangers dropped off food to the picket line and donated money to help the nurses while they were out on strike.

Now, as a thank you, the nurses are helping out other members of the community in need. Since nurses know well the financial hardships many of their patients face, the nurses are saying 'thank you' by paying off the outstanding medical debt of these families.

RELATED: Allina Nurses' Open-Ended Strike in Twin Cities Underway

MNA partnered with a New York nonprofit to purchase the $ 2.6 million balance for $28,000, much like collection agencies do when they buy debt. According to the MNA, medical debt is the number one cause for bankruptcy.

The effort will help Minnesotans like Debra Puchala, who owes thousands of dollars to various medical providers after two surgeries.

RELATED: Nurses End Strike, Return to Work

"I can't make a regular medical appointment. I have to either go through urgent care or, if it gets bad, the emergency room because they won't let me make the appointment," Puchala said. 

Said Rose Roach, executive director of the Nurses Association: "It should not come to this. Health is not a consumable good. Health care is not a commodity - we must stop treating it as such."

Credits

Lindsey Brown

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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