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Nataline Sarkysian Vigil Sunday

Nurses Pledge Support to Family

GLENDALE, Calif., Dec. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee pledged support of and offered condolences to the family of Nataline Sarkysian, and blasted insurance giant CIGNA for failing to approve a liver transplant one week earlier for the 17-year-old, who tragically died just hours after CIGNA relented and agreed to the procedure following a massive national outcry. CNA/NNOC will be taking part in a December 23 vigil for Nataline.

What: Vigil for Nataline Sarkysian

When: Sunday, Dec. 23, 6:00 pm

Where: Ferrahian High School, 5300 White Oak Blvd., Encino, CA

"The incredible outpouring of support from Americans across the country for Nataline's family and condemnation of CIGNA's heartless behavior is inspiring -- and an indication of the overwhelming public disgust with insurance companies and their restrictions on care," said Geri Jenkins, RN, a member of the CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents who works in a transplant unit at the University of California San Diego Medical Center. At the same time, Jenkins criticized a few in the media who have attempted to shift the blame onto Nataline's family and the caregivers, instead of CIGNA for denying the transplant. "Nataline did not ask to get sick, and her doctors did urge CIGNA to authorize the transplant. There can be no doubt as to who was the barrier to her care."

"Nurses will be on hand Sunday to support Nataline -- and all the other patients like her we care for on any given day," Jenkins added.

CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro called the final outcome "a horrific tragedy that demonstrates what is so fundamentally wrong with our health care system today. Insurance companies have a stranglehold on our health. Their first priority is to make profits for their shareholders -- and the way they do that is by denying care."

On Dec. 11, four leading physicians, including the surgical director of the Pediatric Liver Transplant Program at UCLA, wrote to CIGNA urging the company to reverse its denial. The physicians said that Nataline, "currently meets criteria to be listed as Status 1A" for a transplant. They also challenged CIGNA's denial which the company said occurred because their benefit plan "does not cover experimental, investigational and unproven services," to which the doctors replied, "Nataline's case is in fact none of the above." On Thursday, CIGNA was bombarded with phone calls organized online to its offices across the country, while a rally sponsored by CNA/NNOC, with the substantial help of the local Armenian community, drew 150 people to the Glendale offices of CIGNA -- all of which produced the turnaround by CIGNA to finally reverse its prior denial of care. It was a genuine patient revolt.

CNA/NNOC is the nation's largest and fastest-growing union of direct-care RNs, with 75,000 members in all 50 states.

SOURCE California Nurses Association
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