The Measure of a Man

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Broken Levees, Broken Lives: A Post-Katrina Focus on Health

Broken lives is another testimony to the fact that we need healthcare reform now. Please support single payer healthcare. We need toput compassion and empathy back into health care and put the honor and integrity back in our profession that we have lost due to the lust for profit that now controls our healthcare system.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Obama supports the Employee Free Choice Act

Vote Obama for President and support the employee free choice act.

Myths in Healthcare

Myth 1: The US Healthcare System Is the Best in the World
This idea has been called the alpha myth because it is fundamentally the root of all other myths.[1] It is the straightforward belief that Americans have access to the highest quality healthcare available in the world. A different way to present this myth is to state that citizens in other countries experience long waits for healthcare, that they must rely on generalists, and that they suffer worse outcomes as a result.
This belief is widespread and well-entrenched in the American mindset. So it is perhaps surprising that in a 10-nation 1990 survey on the level of satisfaction with the national healthcare system, the United States ranked 10th.[2] These results were then reproduced a decade later.[3] Although Americans believe the US system is the best, clearly they are not as satisfied with the healthcare they receive as are citizens of other countries.

For the full article visit the links below. There are also links to other sections of the article that are interestingand informative. You will be required to register at the site to view the entire story, it is free on the medscape site.

Abstract and Introduction
Myth 1: The US Healthcare System Is the Best in the World
Myth 2: There Will Always Be a Certain Segment of the Population That Remains Uninsured
Myth 3: The Uninsured Have Equal Access to Medical Care Through the Emergency Room
Myth 4: A Free Market Is the Best Way to Get the Highest Quality Health Insurance for the Lowest Cost
Myth 5: We Just Cannot Afford to Cover Everyone

Support the Employee Free Choice Act

The paragraph below is copied from the California Nurses Association campaign for the employee free choice act. I believe and support this campiagn and ask that all who visit this blog will review the issue and support bringing fairness and choice to the American worker. At the site linked below you will find testimonials of real nurses struggle to unionize and advocate for their patients and profession.

EFCA - Employee Free Choice Act
60 million American workers have expressed interest in belonging to a union. 79 percent of them agree they are likely to be fired for trying to form one. It’s time put the era of union-busting behind us.
Union membership has been declining over the past several decades.Employers are waging increasingly vicious campaigns against workers and union officials who attempt to organize for better working conditions. The lag between gathering enough cards to file for an election and the election itself creates weeks in which professional "union busters" can infiltrate a workplace, intimidating, misleading, and harassing workers into voting against unionization. If you think your employer wouldn’t do that to you, think again: 92 percent of employers force employees to attend compulsory anti-union meetings.
It’s time for a change.New legislation can end union-busting. The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would make it possible to elect a union by collecting signed union cards from the majority of workers on a job. EFCA will provide a democratic process to workers seeking union representation, without giving management the lead time necessary to coordinate an attack on workers’ rights to freely associate and organize.
Sign the Online Card to Support Employee Free Choice here!
Download the complete EFCA brochure in PDF

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Your RX for health care reform

I was recently sent this email from Healthcare united asking for my perscription for changing our health care system. I sent in my opinion, at least the short version anyway and would like to ask you to do the same.

These emails are to be delivered to our senators and congressman at the Democratic convention. I see it as another opportunity to get your voice heard.

In full disclosure united healthcare is a campaign run by the SEIU. I do not support all their efforts but we can and should work with each other on those campiagns that we do agree and we agree that health care is in need of real reform.

The link below will take you to the form for you to submit your ideas.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Single Payer Now

Fast Facts about Single Payer

by Suzanne Cowan — last modified 2008-06-17 10:24 PM
The June 19 rally is in support of Single Payer health insurance, as opposed to a system run for profit by private insurance companies. But what is Single Payer?
Did you know?
The US spends more that twice as much per person for healthcare as any other nation, yet
One sixth of Americans have no health insurance.
One half of all bankruptcies are caused by healthcare bills.
Three quarters of those people had health insurance.
Despite this spending, the World Health Organization ranks the US 37th in overall health, the worst among industrial countries.
The US is the only industrial country that does not have a plan that provides health care for everybody.
In the US, there are currently more than 1200 separate for-profit insurance plans. The result is that, instead of paying for health care, about 30 cents of every health care dollar pay for:
Administrative costs such as billing
Marketing and advertising
Risk evaluation (allows insurance companies to provide insurance to the healthy and refuse coverage to those with "pre-existing conditions")
Denial management (the search for excuses to delay, deny or renege on payment for health care)
The June 19th rally supports California Senate Bill 840 (SB 840) and federal House Resolution 676 (HR 676). Both bills would establish a single-payer system of universal health care that eliminates insurance companies as middlemen.
Under a single-payer system in California or nationally, we would spend less on healthcare than we do now, and with far better results. Specifically, a single-payer system would:
Eliminate all current premiums, deductibles and co-payments. Instead, employers, employees and individuals would pay an annual tax that would be combined in one fund with monies from existing government programs. This fund would be the sole payer of all medical claims.
Immediately save billions of dollars by eliminating the excessive costs that insurance companies now spend for administration, lobbying, marketing, risk management, denial management, CEO salaries and profits.
Use the bulk purchasing power to reduce the cost of pharmaceuticals and durable medical equipment.
Increase efficiency and stabilize the growth in health care spending by linking spending increases to state/national GDP and relevant demographic indicators.
Allow the vast majority of people to pay less than they do now for medical care, while receiving far more comprehensive coverage.
Both SB 840 and HR 676 specifically permit free choice of health care providers, both public and private. Current for-profit insurance plans restrict choice to "in-plan" providers,
Many federal and state studies since l990 have concluded that a single-payer system is the only model that is truly efficient, equitable and sustainable. It spreads risk, pools funds, and provides all residents access to medical care.

Support single payer bill HR 676 by writing your representative and letting them know that you want justice in health care and a single payer system. You will find links at the bottom of this blog to find your Representatives e-mail and physical address. To get more information on the model for this bill visit

National Single Payer Bill
HR 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act, was introduced by Representative John Conyers, Jr. The bill has 90 cosponsors. HR 676 closely mirrors California’s SB 840.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

THIS FRIDAY re California's proposed SB840-SHOW UP!

In case you don't already know, in Oakland, California - this coming Friday evening, a couple of the co-authors of California's universal healthcare bill SB840 will be having a townhall. Included on the bill is Senator Sheila Kuehl's Healthcare Consultant (who I think did most of the detail on writing the bill), Sarah Rogers and likely more key people.

THIS NEEDS YOUR ATTENTION - it is CRITICAL that people show up and let the powers that be right now know that it is NOT ok to sweep this under the rug yet again and that we are not going to settle for another lame a excuse of a healthcare proposal (regardless of whether it comes from the Obama camp or the governator).

Humanist Hall
27th near Broadway
Oakland, California

For details: visit

Here are highlights from the last hearing on the bill: YouTube - California Considers Healthcare for ALL-The $ issue

Americans Mad and Angry

I recently read a post on allnurses that led me to a site called Americans mad and angry. The site is a non profit that reports on medical errors and the real life stories of the patients affected by them. The organization does not present an opinion as to how nurse ratios or unions play into the rate of medical errors but wanted to take the opportunity to give my two cents on the subject.

I have posted many videos and written post on the issue of patient safety and medical errors as they relate to understaffing. I have also posted or previously discussed how studies have shown that unionized hospitals have been shown to have better outcomes than their non union counter parts.

I would ask that you reflect on the errors that you are aware of and ask yourself if better ratios, better staff development and true whistleblower protections for safety issues may have helped prevent them. Also review the site that I will link below and ask your self if these were preventable and would better trained and prepared staff have done a better job.

I am not suggesting that personal responsibility be removed but that the hospitals have a responsibility to ensure that their staff is educated and adequate in number to provide safe care. Rushing is often the reason that errors occur and that rushing is often caused by understaffing. They as the employer are responsible for staffing and they need to be mandated to set ratios as they have proven to be not up to the task.

Support mandatory staffing ratios and the unions to allow nurses to voice their concerns as they relate to safety. Support unions, support ratios, support whistleblower protection and reject the notion that your administration is doing all they can do. They have let us all down for to long and they need to be held accountable to someone.

Also review the links on the right of this blog to worthy petitions to support the issues discussed above.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Money-money-money; we need more money!

I hope everyone has read the story out of LA detailing the lengths that hospital CEO's will go to turn a profit. This story details the lack of integrity and compassion that our hospital leadership shows the public and the patients they are trusted to provide care for. I know that some will say well that's only one example but I will tell you to review your history. Take for another example the Columbia/HCA medicare fraud case that resulted in millions of dollars of fines levied against HCA. I would contend that these are only the ones we are aware of and suggest that these examples supports the need to remove profit from health care so that our fine leaders are kept honest. Join me in supporting a universal single payer health care plan. You can find links to several great plans on this site to support.

Please review the article at for more details. Oh, by the way all these hospitals are managed and owned by private for profit groups.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Critical Condition

Visit the link below to preview the upcomming film by Roger Weisberg titled Critical Condition. The film will be debuted on PBS on Septemebr 30th at 9pm. I hope all persons interested in equality and fairness in health care will watch this video and post their comments on this site. Thanks Nurse Advocate.

Critical Condition
by Roger Weisberg Broadcast Date: September 30, 2008, Special Broadcast at 9 PM (90 minutes) Check local listings
What happens if you fall sick and are one of 47 million people in America without health insurance? "Critical Condition" by Roger Weisberg ("Waging a Living," P.O.V. 2006) puts a human face on the nation's growing health care crisis by capturing the harrowing struggles of four critically ill Americans who discover that being uninsured can cost them their jobs, health, home, savings, even their lives. Filmed in vérité style, "Critical Condition" offers a moving and invaluable expose at a time when the nation is debating how to extend health insurance to all Americans. A production of Public Policy Productions in association with Thirteen/WNET New York and American Documentary P.O.V.

Share your opinion

The post are designed to evoke conversation that leads to action. GET INVOLVED!!!, lets us know your opinion, post your comments today.
You can post your comments anonymously if you like or use any name you choose. We are not interested in knowing who you are but what you think!!

My Story

My Story

I have been a nurse for just over ten years. I earned my degree with the support of my wife and financial assistance for the GI bill. I was drawn to the profession of nursing after a brief exposure to an advanced course in field triage while serving in the army. I find the human body fascinating and am always learning. I also was attracted to the profession for all the usual reasons that bring people to the profession of nursing. I enjoy the reward of giving to my fellow man.

I believe that health care and the advocacy of safe care is the foundation of nursing that was started by our founders like Florence Nightingale. Our practice act calls for our profession to advocate for our patients and against practices that puts their safety in jeopardy.

The healthcare industry has for the last twenty plus years constructed an environment to maximize profits at the expense of patient safety and our profession. We as nurses have stood by fairly quit and allowed for this to happen.

Recently, I and others voiced concerns related to patient safety and working conditions at Summit Hospital a hospital owned by Healthcare Corporation of America. Our issues included the working of nurse with approximately six month of experience for more than twenty four hours straight. This particular nurse did volunteer to work these hours but in my opinion should not have been ask to do so. She is a great nurse for her limited experience but put her license and the safety of her patients at risk that night. The manager of the unit failed her and the patients in her charge. Study after study has shown that the error rate goes off the chart after twelve hours. I and fifteen other nurses also expressed to management our concerns over the floating policies that were sending unqualified nurses to our unit. We noted several instances were these nurse made errors that put the patient in potential jeopardy. We also expressed our concerns over ratios of 3 to 1 becoming the norm in the unit when 2 to 1 is considered the norm in intensive care across most of the country.

We submitted these concerns in writing and signed by sixteen nurses from our unit. Management responded by holding meetings with a group of employees that they chose and their representatives which included the director of HR, our unit manager and the director of nursing. The meetings at their start gave us some hope that our issues might be taken seriously and dealt with. It was soon apparent that would not be the case and these meetings quickly moved away from our issues to their issues. They would agree that their were problems but would not put any solutions into writing, stating that they needed to be able to remain flexible and made statements like we will try instead of we will.

At around this same time I was informed of an organization called the NNOC or National Nurses Organizing Committee, that was holding meetings in the Nashville area to organize nurses to advocate for patients and against many of the problems that I expressed above. I met with their organizer and felt that their movement was something that I could support. I became a member of the NNOC and began attending meetings on a regular basis. I also began placing invitations to attend meetings in the break room of my unit and speaking with interested coworkers, while on break, about the need to organize and advocate for our patients and our profession.

After a short period of time I was ask by my manager about my involvement with the NNOC and my desire to form a union at Summit Hospital. I did not deny my association and did not hide my opinion as to why I felt that organizing was needed. I also informed them that I had the right as outlined in the National Labor Relation Act. The nursing staff at Summit was then subjected to mandatory anti union meetings and letter sent to our homes and to our email accounts at work. I was required to attend meetings with the hospital attorney and informed that because I was a charge nurse I was considered management and could not associate with the NNOC. I contested that I was a member of management but submitted to their demands to end my association with the NNOC. I never attended another meeting or recruited for the cause after that meeting. I did however continue to operate a blog, , that advocated for reform of the healthcare system and employee rights to organize. I did not use computers at work for this endeavor and did not use my real name on the blog or use any other names that would tell a reader where I worked or who I worked for.

I was ultimately terminated from Summit Medical Center on June 11th, 2008 for what I was told was the operation of a blog. I was given no specifics of what about the blog was grounds for my termination despite my asking. I appealed my termination through the hospitals employment dispute resolution process, attempting to get clarification as to what about my blog was cause for my termination. The peer panel dispute process was a sham. The panel as outlined by the hospitals policy was to be made up of my peers, who were “not familiar with the problem or have a close relationship with any of the parties involved”. The panel was anything but and was made up of persons who had expressed an open hostility to my rights to organize and to freely associate with the NNOC in the past. Two of the panel members were charge nurses from the ER also under the supervision of my manager, who had terminated me. These two persons were also at the meeting with the hospitals attorney and expressed anti union sentiment. Another panel member was a person who was well aware of my personal views related to unions and the right to organize and had been present at private settings outside the hospital were I had expressed my opinions related to the issues that started all this. This puts three of the five panel members in clear violation of the policy. I then was refused the right to seek any clarification as to what about the blog was grounds for my termination despite that being the stated reason for the panel. I was not given the right to hear the reasons as stated by my manager and the director of HR.

I am writing this because I believe that my fundamental right to due process has been violated. This is a right to work state and right or wrong that gives Summit the right to do as the please when it comes to hiring and firing of employees but most people believe and Summit attempts to mislead their employees that they are fair and just when it comes to matters of employee issues.

If Summit is allowed to get away with this and is not challenged then patients are at risk. Health care workers need to be free to advocate for safety for their patients and if they are scared into submission then patients will suffer.

Join me in fighting for our rights to free association and to advocate for our patients as our practice act requires. Support the employee free choice act, and send a message to Summit and other corporate bullies that feel you are entitled to the rights they give you and nothing more.
Also visit sited like Leap for Safety and support petitions to mandate stronger legislation that will ensure a safer environment. Visit to get involved.

I truly believe that our healthcare system is in dire trouble and we as nurses have a responsibility to get involved. Please join the fight. Your family may one day depend on what we do today.

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