On behalf of the undersigned physicians and healthcare providers of North Dakota, we urge support for House Bill 1441 which seeks to implement an optional paid family medical leave program. This legislation takes an essential step forward for all North Dakotans by providing vital financial support for working families during vulnerable times such as caring for a sick loved one or newborn baby.

As physicians, we see firsthand the physical and emotional stress endured by our patients when they must choose between family and income. Many of us have cared for critically ill infants that have contracted infections from daycare because their mothers returned to work before they could get their first vaccinations. Due to the COVID19 pandemic, we have seen numerous patients lose their jobs because they had to stay home to care for a family member.

Paid family medical leave has far reaching benefits on health and the economy. It is associated with lower infant mortality rates, prolonged breastfeeding duration, and improvements in maternal mental health. Paid leave is associated with higher work force participation among women. With an aging population, more North Dakota workers will become unpaid caregivers. Paid leave allows employees to maintain attachment to the labor force ultimately benefiting the economy.

The lack of paid family leave has serious costs: it hinders workforce advancement and income, threatens economic security, and negatively impacts the health of families. We encourage you to become involved by contacting your representatives and asking them to support paid family medical leave, House Bill 1441.

Natalie Dvorak, MD, Moorhead

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The following 50 physicians and health care providers signed this letter.

Natalie Dvorak, MD; Grant Syverson, MD; Ellen Vogels, DO; Sabha Ganai, MD, PhD, MPH; Stefanie Hanisch, MD; Samantha Perleberg, MD; Rebecca Bakke, MD; Alicia Glynn, MD; Stephanie Antony, MD; Jennifer Mullally, MD; Ann Safo, DO; Lara Lunde, MD; Megan Bowen, MD; Angela Strang, MD; Dana Stegmiller, PA-C; Debra Walker, MD; Chris Tionson, MD; Baraba Bentz, MD; Stephen McDonough, MD; Patricia Scherrer, MD; Kathy Anderson, MD; Jagila Minso, MD; Nabeel Manzar, MD; Kristie Toman, DO; Stephen Tinguely, MD; Amy Oksa, MD; Maria Weller, MD; Jonathan Pacella, MSIV; Carrie Ann Ranum, MD; Brenda Thurlow, MD; Molly Linn, DO; Julie Kenien-Erpelding, MD; Sarah Paur, CPNP; Alex Thompson, MD; Koye Oyerinde, MD, DrPH; Rafael Ocejo, MD; Steffany Moen, MD, MS; Justin Horner, MD; Teresa Frey, DO; Brandon Meyer, MD; Amanda Oney, CPNP; Batoule Majed, MD; Brennan Forward, MD; Chris Cleveland, MD; Carrie Brower-Breitwieser, PhD, LP; Katherine Klipfel, PhD, LP; Lindsay Hines, PhD; Alison Hornyak, DO; Stephanie Hanson, MD; Rebecca Preusler, PsyD.