Opinion: This nurse supports Jovanka Beckles, who has long been fighting for our health care

Even before she entered the AD15 race, she was fighting to keep Alta Bates open. She has been on the ground, working with the most vulnerable members of this community for decades.

First, Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo closed its doors. Now, we’re advocating to keep Alta Bates Summit Medical Center open. The residents of this community could soon be living in what has been called a “hospital desert.”

Only one candidate in the race for Assembly District 15 was on the front lines – long before the campaign for Assembly began – fighting for our health care and standing with the patients and the nurses in this community: Jovanka Beckles.

I’ve been a registered nurse in Oakland for more than 31 years. I’ve spent my career watching lives transformed by quality health care. Now, more and more, I’m seeing people’s lives transformed by a lack of access to care. Too many are forced to go without the critical services they need because they can’t afford it. And too many are forced to choose between medicine and groceries.

Understanding a community’s health care needs requires someone who is present in her community. And standing up to insurance companies to fight for the dignity of each and every Californian requires backbone. Only one candidate in the race for Assembly District 15 has been here, shoulder-to-shoulder with us, and has taken a stand in the face of corporate opposition: Jovanka Beckles.

Jovanka understands that healthy families mean a thriving and healthy community and economy. As someone who has spent years working in our communities to deliver care, she’s seen the direct impact access to health care has on people’s lives. She knows it because she’s lived it.

I would be lying if I said that Jovanka and I have the same opinion on every issue and the same approach to solving every challenge. We don’t. But I trust that Jovanka has come to her service – both as a mental health provider and an elected leader – with the same desire to help and heal her community that has driven me in my career as a nurse. I’ve seen that commitment to this district from her, right here in this community, for years. Not just during election season. She’s the only candidate for this seat I can say that about.

While door knocking for Jovanka recently, I was shocked to hear a claim that Jovanka is against vaccines. As a seasoned health professional, I can firmly say that our union, and nurses like me, would never endorse a candidate who doesn’t support vaccines. Jovanka knows that vaccines mean healthier people and safer schools. She openly supports the 2015 legislation that ended personal belief exemptions from vaccination requirements for entry into public schools.

In the course of a campaign, there are lies told, mud is slung. But to challenge the health care credentials of a woman who has stood next to nurses on the picket line, who has served this district, delivering mental health care for children – it’s just shameful.

So let’s set the record straight.

There is only one candidate who has been on the ground, working with the most vulnerable members of this community for decades: Jovanka Beckles.

There is only one candidate who has taken a stand for single-payer health care and vows to get to work in Sacramento to bring Medicare for All to California: Jovanka Beckles.

There is only one candidate who has stood up to corporate interests, holding Chevron accountable for polluting her community and then withstanding their more than $3-million attempt to remove her from the Richmond City Council: Jovanka Beckles.

There is only one candidate whose commitment to the physical and emotional health of this community has earned her the endorsement of my union, the California Nurses Association: Jovanka Beckles.

And there is only one candidate that this nurse trusts to go to Sacramento and stand up for the health and safety of our community: Jovanka Beckles. I hope you’ll join me in voting for her by Nov. 6.

Wendy Bloom is a pediatric nurse and vice chair of the Berkeley Commission on Labor. She’s a member of the California Nurses Association, which has endorsed Jovanka Beckles for Assembly District 15.