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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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nurses need to unite and organize

This blog began as a way for me to express my concerns for the safety issues that I witness daily while working as an acute care nurse.

I have worked at many institutions that include for profit, not for profit, union and non union. In my time as a nurse I have come to believe that profit is king and shapes many if not most of the decisions that are made in a hospital. I have also come to accept the idea that we as nurses truly are the patients advocate and that as much as any other duty we have we must ensure that the patient is safe while receiving care from us, the physicians and that the facilities policies or lack there of do no harm.

The above is why I believe that the organizing of nurses is needed in most cases. Unions for me are not about money, retirement, or benefits but about bargaining for issues that affect the safety of patients and the profession of nursing. I see things like patient/nurse ratios, staff education, limits on overtime and hours worked, and the ability of nurses to influence care decisions and policy as the way we as nurses insure the safety of our patients and growth of our profession.

I hope that once we have moved health care reform forward and reformed the insurance industry that we in the health care community will turn our attention to workers rights and the legal right to organize so that we may one day have a seat at the table and be able to say no to the profit motive and insist that our patients are given safe care by properly trained, well rested nurses who are able to meet their health care needs.

Support the Employee Free Choice Act when it comes up in the house and senate and support unions and the working men and women that they represent. You can find may links on this blog that will allow you to get involved or write me and I will help as much as I can to support your efforts to see a more empowered nursing profession and safer hospital setting.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Write Your Rep Today

I want to encourage all readers of this post to write their representatives and express their support for meaningful health care reform. By meaningful I mean reform that includes all Americans. Remember that many of the disabled in our nation lack adequate access to routine care and insurance that provides the therapy to meet their special needs. Also many who are currently “able” will become disabled needlessly if they are unable to receive care that they need to keep their medical condition from progressing.

Below is a copy of the last letter I sent my reps as an example. I have also attached links to help you contact your representatives. Please write both your Senator and congress person. Try to explain why this issue is important to you and how you have seen issues related to lack of quality care impact you or your family or someone you know. Make it personal and make them aware of how they vote effects real people and their lives.

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml




Dear (Senator or Congressman)


I am writing you today to encourage your support for strong and meaningful health care reform. Now that the finance committee has passed its bill and the bills from the help committee and finance will be merged and then be voted on. I am asking that you keep an open mind and work on finding the strengths of the bill that you can support.

I have met with you or your representatives both in Washington and here in Nashville and appreciated your time and consideration to hear my concerns and desires as it relates to health care. I am a registered nurse of over eleven years and fifteen in the medical field. I see the issues of our broken health care system on a regular basis. I support the public option and reform that ensures that the insurance industry is kept in check. I hope that in the end whatever bill passes covers all Americans regardless of their income or ability to pay. I firmly believe that we either pay now or pay more later.

I hope that you will consider what I have said and again keep and open mind and never forget that thousands are dying every year due to lack of access to routine care. We as a nation can and must do better.


Sincerely

Michael Chapman, RN
Address Here

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Billionaires for Wealthcare

Says it all. The teabaggers and other sheep are to dense to see they are being made fun of.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Attention all nurses and people with a disability

Nurses are the catalysts toward social change!
Hi. My name is Alex. I founded The Many World's Network. Many Worlds Network
The Many World's Network is dedicated to creating a community where everyone posts blogs and we begin a conversation evolving the negative language of disability, concentrating on the positives or strengths.
I believe, the only way to do this, is to explore worlds of disability through a multidisciplinary perspective.
I contacted Michael because the nurse is able to see all aspects of the healthcare system, and in order to create a dialgoue between all people with a stakehold in disability, the nursing community is vitally important.
We extend a warm invite to come join our community and aim to create a database of ethical health journalism where everybody will have a voice.
Thank you,
Alex Kaminsky.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Exposing the PR Firms Behind the Fake "Grass Roots" Anti-Healthcare Movement

Take the information and statements that she makes and check them out for your self. They are true, unlike the garbage and lies being spewed by fox news and many of the republican right wingers. I hope that you will check out the facts of the issue.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Truth of the Matter.

Below is a copy of an email I recieved from the SEIU and the campaign for health care reform. It debunks the lies that are being spread by FOX news and other right wingers, tea baggers and blowhards. It takes their lie and then gives the page of the proposed bill in congress and what it actually says that debunks that lie. I hope as they do that this gives you some real information to silence the idots.



Here are the facts. Anyone can verify them by reading the bill at http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3200/text
Actual itemized contents of the Health Care Reform Bill:
"Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure!"
TRUTH: This is not an "audit," it's a study. Moreover, the bill states (pp. 22-23) that the report will "include any recommendations the Commissioner deems appropriate to ensure that the law does not provide incentives for small and mid-size employers to self-insure or create adverse selection in the risk pools of large group insurers and self-insured employers." This is almost directly the opposite of the email's claim."Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed!"
TRUTH: Page 29 continues to define the "essential benefits package" and discusses limits on what Americans will have to spend on health care under this minimum standard. In no way does this section stipulate the rationing of care."Page 30: A government committee will decide what treatments and benefits you get (and, unlike an insurer, there will be no appeals process)"
TRUTH: Page 30 begins to describe the Health Benefits Advisory Committee which establishes certain minimum standards for health insurance plans. In no way does this committee deny treatments and benefits to Americans with health insurance."Page 42: The 'Health Choices Commissioner' will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None."
TRUTH: Page 42 begins to describe the Health Choices Commissioner's duties. The idea that this person will decide what benefits Americans receive is patently false, given that most Americans will keep their current plans under reform, and Americans within the exchange will have the choice of purchasing many different kinds of health plans. Rather, the Commissioner will establish minimum standards to protect Americans."Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services."
TRUTH: Pages 50-51 contain a provision stating that discrimination will not be allowed in the provision of health care services. Nowhere does the bill state that non-US citizens will be provided free health care services. The bill prohibits federal dollars from being used for undocumented immigrants."Page 58: Every person will be issued a National ID Healthcard."
TRUTH: Page 58, in the context of a discussion of administrative standards, mentions that "determination of an individual's financial responsibility at the point of service and, to the extent possible, prior to service, including whether the individual is eligible for a specific service with a specific physician at a specific facility...may include utilization of a machine-readable health plan beneficiary identification card." In no way does the bill state that such a card would be national, or that it would be issued to every person, or that it would, in fact, be used at all."Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer."
TRUTH: Page 59 continues the discussion of administrative standards, and authorizes electronic transfers of money within the government. In no way does this provision grant the government access to individual bank accounts."Page 65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retiree and community organizer health plans (read: SEIU, UAW and ACORN)"
TRUTH: Here's what page 65 says: "Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall establish a temporary reinsurance program to provide reimbursement to assist participating employment-based plans with the cost of providing health benefits to retirees and to eligible spouses, surviving spouses and dependents of such retirees." No mention is made of unions or community organizations."Page 72: All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange."
TRUTH: That's true! Plans have to have a minimum standard of benefits, bat can offer other plans as well. But that's fair, isn't it? Private insurers can continue to operate outside the exchange if they wish - should the government establish no standards for the exchange? In that case, how could reform end insurance industry abuses and help to control costs?"Page 84: All private healthcare plans must participate in the Healthcare Exchange (i.e., total government control of private plans)"
TRUTH: This section says is that if private health care plans want to operate in the Exchange, they must provide a basic benefit package. "Page 91: Government mandates linguistic infrastructure for services; translation: illegal aliens"
TRUTH: Some American citizens are more comfortable speaking a language other than English, especially in a sensitive situation like a consultation with their doctor. This provision in no way opens the door for coverage of undocumented workers."Page 95: The Government will pay ACORN and Americorps to sign up individuals for Government-run Health Care plan."
TRUTH: Page 95 makes no mention of ACORN and Americorps; all it says is that the Commissioner can conduct outreach to vulnerable populations, making them aware of their options.
"Page 102: Those eligible for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled: you have no choice in the matter."
TRUTH: People who are eligible for Medicaid will not have to face the burdens of paperwork and other bureaucratic struggles. Far from depriving people of choice, this measure will ensure coverage.
"Page 124: No company can sue the government for price-fixing. No 'judicial review' is permitted against the government monopoly. Put simply, private insurers will be crushed."
TRUTH: This section describes rate-setting under the public health insurance plan option, which will compete with private insurers, who can set their own rates. Because of inherent advantages like their established administrative and provider frameworks, private insurance companies will not be "crushed" by government competition."Page 127: The AMA sold doctors out: the government will set wages."
TRUTH: The government will negotiate rates with providers under the public health insurance plan option. However, private insurers will continue to pay their own rates."Page 145: An employer MUST auto-enroll employees into the government-run public plan. No alternatives."
TRUTH: This is simply not true. Employers with more than 20 employees aren't even eligible to participate in the exchange, let alone the public plan, until several years after the exchange launches in 2013. Moreover, no employer will be forced to participate in the public plan."Page 146: Employers MUST pay healthcare bills for part-time employees AND their families."
TRUTH: Employers are required to pay some benefits for part-time employees on a basis proportional to what they pay for full-time employees. No language on this page or the next stipulates coverage for the families of part-time employees."Page 149: Any employer with a payroll of $400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays an 8% tax on payroll"
TRUTH: The payroll penalty applies to employers with payroll over $500,000 who do not provide insurance to their employees. The percentage for employers with payroll from $500,000 - $750,000 is 6%. Employers do not have to offer the public option to avoid this penalty, they can offer private insurance if they wish."Page 150: Any employer with a payroll of $250K-400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays a 2 to 6% tax on payroll"
TRUTH: This is false, see above."Page 167: Any individual who doesn't' have acceptable healthcare (according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income."
TRUTH: Pages 167-173 detail what "acceptable health care" means (basically, insurance coverage) and also allow for many different kinds of exceptions to this rule. "Page 170: Any NON-RESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes (Americans will pay for them)."
TRUTH: Non-resident aliens do not have to pay the penalty for not having health insurance, nor will the receive federal assistance, because they are not required to purchase health insurance. They are not exempted from individual taxes generally."Page 195: Officers and employees of Government Healthcare Bureaucracy will have access to ALL American financial and personal records."
TRUTH: This is a gross overstatement. For the purposes of determining affordability credits for Americans who need financial assistance in purchasing health insurance, employees of the Health Choices Administration will have access to tax information that the federal government already keeps. As is clearly stated on page 196, "Return information... may be used by officers and employees of the Health Choices Administration or such State-based health insurance exchange, as the case may be, only for the purposes of, and to the extent necessary in, establishing and verifying the appropriate amount of any affordability credit described in subtitle C of title II of the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 and providing for the repayment of any such credit which was in excess of such appropriate amount.''"Page 203: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax." Yes, it really says that."
TRUTH: This quote is taken out of context, and is in fact referring to a calculation used in the bill. Full context of quote: "'(4) NOT TREATED AS TAX IMPOSED BY THIS CHAPTER FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES.-The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax imposed by this chapter for purposes of determining the amount of any credit under this chapter or for purposes of section 55.''"Page 239: Bill will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors and the poor most affected."
TRUTH: This section has nothing whatsoever to do with reducing services. It makes much needed changes to the way in which physician reimbursement is recalculated every year. The bill will, in fact, create much more opportunity for seniors and the poor to receive necessary care."Page 241: Doctors: no matter what specialty you have, you'll all be paid the same (thanks, AMA!)"
TRUTH: Page 241 does not say this. Nowhere does it say this. It does say that physicians will be grouped into certain categories regardless of specialty. These categories merely determine if the physician is engaged in primarily therapeutic or preventative care.
"Page 253: Government sets value of doctors' time, their professional judgment, etc."
TRUTH: There is no good response to this assertion as it appears to have been made up completely. The section deals with 'misvalued codes' meaning that the government is potentially not paying an acceptable rate for a specific service. This will allow the government to, for example, pay more for services that require more payment, such as high-overhead procedures. The author of these criticisms separately attacks the bill for paying the same rate to all doctors, then attacks again for paying different rates."Page 265: Government mandates and controls productivity for private healthcare industries."
TRUTH: This section amends the Social Security Act to include productivity measures. There is no mandate or control of anything. This merely updates the way in which doctors and hospitals are paid through Medicare."Page 268: Government regulates rental and purchase of power-driven wheelchairs."
TRUTH: This is simply not true. This slightly amends existing guidelines for payments for medical equipment, in this case power-driven wheelchairs. This section introduces no 'regulations' that are not in the Social Security Act."Page 272: Cancer patients: welcome to the wonderful world of rationing!"
TRUTH: Overusage of the hot-button word "rationing" is a way to deflect attention away from the actual language of the bill and incite unjustified fear. This section only compares costs incurred by cancer hospitals to costs incurred by similar hospitals, and adjusts payments to reduce the possibility of fraud and abuse."Page 280: Hospitals will be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admissions."
TRUTH: This is almost correct. The section is one of the first efforts at targeting excessive readmissions. Excessive readmissions are physically and emotionally damaging to patients, while simultaneously putting them, and the health care system, in far more financial risk than is necessary. The American Hospital Association recommended reduced payments for avoidable readmission in testimony to Congress.
"Page 298: Doctors: if you treat a patient during an initial admission that results in a readmission, you will be penalized by the government."
TRUTH: This is patently false. The section is about possible methods that the Secretary of Health and Human services might consider in order to address the growing problem of patient readmission. This section does not, in any way, create a penalty, nor does it even mandate policy. It merely provides examples of recourses that might be considered."Page 317: Doctors: you are now prohibited from owning and investing in healthcare companies!"
TRUTH: This provision only limits Doctor's investments in health care facilities that they refer patients to The effort to limit self-referral has been ongoing for many years as an effort to reduce fraud and abuse. This is, essentially, the medical community equivalent of insider trading. Limiting this incentive works to put the patient's health above all other considerations. Doctors remain free to engage in investment opportunities in areas that don't create a significant conflict of interest."Page 318: Prohibition on hospital expansion. Hospitals cannot expand without government approval."
TRUTH: This section regulates physicians' investment in hospitals to make sure that physicians are not unfairly benefiting from their power to refer patients to hospitals they have a stake in. The section does not prohibit hospital expansion."Page 321: Hospital expansion hinges on 'community' input: in other words, yet another payoff for ACORN."
TRUTH: In the ongoing effort to demonize community-based groups such as ACORN, every instance of the word "community" has become associated with that group's efforts. In reality, this provision allows for anyone to provide input. This includes homeowners, religious leaders, neighborhood groups, and others. There are no payoffs. There is no money exchanged in any way."Page 335: Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures: i.e., rationing."
TRUTH: This provision is included in order to allow the government to base payments on practices that work. Nowhere does it say health care will be rationed. The attempt to isolate what works and what does not work in Medicare Advantage plans only benefits the health care system in general."Page 341: Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc."
TRUTH: The government can disqualify some Medicare Advantage Plans from receiving some additional payments, but only if those plans are not meeting necessary requirements."Page 354: Government will restrict enrollment of SPECIAL NEEDS individuals."
TRUTH: This section only deals with how to handle special needs individuals who need to enroll outside of the open enrollment period. Almost every type of plan operates with open enrollment periods. This section does not create more restrictions."Page 379: More bureaucracy: Telehealth Advisory Committee (healthcare by phone)."
TRUTH: This section merely expands existing Telehealth programs, which supplement but do not replace other health coverage, and provide a vital resource to Americans in rural and remote areas."Page 425-430: More bureaucracy: Advance Care Planning Consult: Senior Citizens, assisted suicide, euthanasia?; Government will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. Mandatory. Appears to lock in estate taxes ahead of time; Government provides approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death; Government mandates program that orders end-of-life treatment; government dictates how your life ends; Advance Care Planning Consult will be used to dictate treatment as patient's health deteriorates. This can include an ORDER for end-of-life plans. An ORDER from the GOVERNMENT; Government will decide what level of treatments you may have at end-of-life."
TRUTH: All of these hysterical claims have been debunked elsewhere. HR3200 provides for the reimbursement of a voluntary session of end-of-life counseling with your physician once every five years. This in no way means the government will make decisions for patients or encourage doctor-assisted suicide. Counseling simply makes patients and their families aware of their options."Page 469: Community-based Home Medical Services: more payoffs for ACORN."
TRUTH: ACORN is not a Community-Based Medical Home."Page 472: Payments to Community-based organizations: more payoffs for ACORN."
TRUTH: This is clearly still referring to community health groups, not ACORN. "Page 489: Government will cover marriage and family therapy. Government intervenes in your marriage."
TRUTH: Covering marriage and family therapy, as many private insurance plans do, does not mean that the government "intervenes in your marriage." The types of individuals who are recognized as therapists are clearly defined on page 491; in brief, professionals only, not bureaucrats."Page 494: Government will cover mental health services: defining, creating and rationing those services."
TRUTH: This section expands government coverage for mental health services under various government programs, and ensures that all mental health services will be offered by qualified professionals.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The People's Rally, in DC, at Malcolm X Park, for Single Payer (Part 1 of 3)

Part 1 of 3 in a great series of videos of the rally at Malcom X park. It doesn't matter if you are a single payer advocate or are pushing for a viable public option that covers all who need it. The issue is that the system is broken and it must be changed now. We can't afford to lose another life due to the profit driven system we currently suffer under.

Get involved, call your congressman and senators, write emails and let your voices be heard. We are the people and our government needs a wake up call to let them know that they work for us and not big pharma, big insurance and the for profit hospitals of America.

The People's Rally, in DC, at Malcolm X Park, for Single Payer (Part 2 of 3)

Part 2 of 3. Great stories and inspiration to keep up the fight for health care reform.

The People's Rally, in DC, at Malcolm X Park, for Single Payer (Part 3 of 3)

Great video and new diagnosis introduced that I believe clearly defines the current issue very well.

Monday, July 20, 2009

BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Preview: Wendell Potter pt 2 | PBS

Part 2

BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Preview: Wendell Potter pt. 1 | PBS

A must see that exposes the truth from the head of public relations at Cigna on how the insurance industry manipulates and cheat the public.

Part 1 of 2

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD

I attended a rally for health care reform today in Nashville outside the offices of Senator Corker and Alexander. Nearly 300 people attended to send the message that we want affordable, quality health care for all Americans now.

You can get your voice heard and help the cause by calling your congressman now at 1-866-288-1495. You will be ask for your zip code and then you will be connected to your representative’s office. Once connected let them know that you support quality, affordable health care for all Americans and hope that they will support HR 3200.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

HBO's Bill Maher Takes On President Obama

I love this and feel like it captures my feelings. I hope that as Bill Maher states that we begin to see more action and less hope. I want to see real health care reform, investigation and prosecution of the Bush administration and those that violated our consitition, the punishment of those that destroyed our economy and put millions out of work, the end (now) of the war in Iraq and for that matter Afganistan. We have a limmited time to get these things done and its time we get off the pot. We don't need conservative friends we need and elected Obama and the rest of the democrats for results.

You go Bill, thanks for telling like it is.

Converts and Activist

With the health care reform debate at full steam and everyone weighing in, I am growing suspect of some of the recent converts. Recently the hospital association that represents the interest of many if not most of America’s hospitals stated they would contribute to the upcoming reform to help it get off the ground.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/health/july-dec09/hospitals_07-08.html

This gives me a very uneasy feeling, something like no interest loans with no income verification did. I wonder other than the obvious what their motivation is. I hope that they are sincere but I believe this is just their way of buying a better seat at the table in their hope to influence the reform in a way that lessons the impact on their profit margins. I hope that I am wrong but am doubtful that their motives are really in the best interest of patients and the communities they serve.

You have to be concerned when companies like HCA, WalMart and other mega marts of goods and services get into the social activism arena. They are true capitalist, I mean exploiters, and like Walmart sales cheap goods made on the backs of the poor in china with no regards to the quality of life of the worker and denies its employees in our nation a living wage, HCA makes its money on the cutting of corners in patient care to save and make another buck. They deny their employees the right to organize and have in the recent past been part of the largest ever Medicare and Medicaid fraud case.

Be suspicious Be very suspicious.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Congressman Cooper Support Public Option

We need to hold him to this position. He has stated to me in person and in email that he supports health care access for all and a viable public option. He states this here and we need to make sure that it happens. Write your representative and demand that they support a public option and real health care reform.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Speaking the truth in DC

This last Wednesday and Thursday I had the privilege of spending time with fellow activist of the SEIU, advocating for meaningful health care reform. I had worked all night the night before and caught the plane that morning at 0930 am. Arrived in DC around noon having not slept in nearly 30 hours at that point. If is wasn't for the fact that I so passionately believe in the need for health care reform I am sure I would have not been able to find the energy that I did.

I am a registered nurse of eleven years and have come to believe that the health care system as it currently exist is broken. I have been an activist on this issue for the better part of the last two years and feel that as a nurse it is my duty to fix the system. We must have a system that provides access for all, quality care for all and at a reasonable price for all and free to those that otherwise cannot afford it. It is time that a nation as rich as ours steps up and gives all its citizens the opportunity to achieve the American dream. Without your health it is not possible to pursue life, liberty and happiness.

While in DC I met with my representative Congressman Cooper, he stated that he is in full support of Obama and the plan for real health care reform to include the public option. I will hold him to his word!

I also spoke with chief of staff to Senator Alexander and and a staffer of Senator Corker and found them open to the discussion of health care reform. Their positions are different from that of my Congressman but their is room for some common ground.

I told the stories of patients and friends who have been crushed by the burden of health care cost. I also tried to show how vulnerable the middle class is to financial devastation when a health care crisis develops in their lives. I shared the stories of a friend of mine who had a traumatic brain injury and is now facing bills that are leading his family to financial ruins and how his health coverage and prescription cost are so expensive that he may loose everything he has worked for his entire life. His family will suffer all because our health care system is broken.

I was also a witness and participant in a very spirited rally that featured members of the senate and congress that gave their words we would see real reform on health care this year. We should hold them all to that!

We can't miss this opportunity as citizens to get involved in shaping the health care reform debate. I am optimistic that a plan that includes choice, access and coverage for all will come out of the house and am hopeful that the senate can achieve the same.

I hope as a registered nurse to see the future of health care improved so that patients are treated as people and not commodities. We as a nation have the opportunity to say that we value life not only in the womb but through out the span of ones life. We can do this and should do this now as it is long over due.

Michael Chapman, RN
Old Hickory, TN

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sara Steffens of Contra Costa Times Speaks Up for Employee Free Choice Act

How many testimonials does a person have to hear before they believe that there is a problem. The corporations have millions, they have high priced attorneys and PR firms to spin their lies and hide their intimidation tactics but the people like Sara Steffens have no reason to lie and they speak from their heart. We need to awaken and demand our rights in the work place and stop the abuse of our right to organize if we choose.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The vote for workers rights; Employee Free Choice Act

The Employee Free Choice Act is now in Congress and being debated. I have been watching the news and reading the blogs to get a sense of what people are thinking, hearing and feeling as the debate unfolds. So far I have heard many truths but just as many lies and I feel I need to put my two cents worth out there.

Business would have you believe that they are the defenders of the democracy and the protector of the secret ballot. They are claiming first of all that EFCA would strip employees of their right to secret ballot which is false. The legislation states that the workers would have the right to decide on using signed cards alone or having a secret ballot election. The decision would no longer be in the hands of the employer.

They also are making the claim that due to the financial problems our nation is facing that this is just a bad idea and will hurt business and their ability to expand and provide new jobs. This is garbage they don't provide jobs because they are interested in the well being of a community or the American people. They provide jobs because there is money to be made. Employee and employer is a relationship that is not about friendship or family but about a mutual need for income. It is a business relationship and for to long it has been one sided with all the growth going to the business. As the economy rebounds the jobs will return and the profits will come back and I believe that it is time we as the producers of that income begin to get our fair and just share of prosperity.

EFCA is a step towards correcting the imbalance that exist in the relationship between worker and employer. I hope that you will read the legislation and keep in mind that if the employees at any given business do not want a union then they won't have one but if they do desire to organize then they should be able to due it without threats of firing or intimidation from their employer.

If they treat their employees well, pay a fair and just living wage and provide the benefits that they enjoy then they will have nothing to fear.

Visit http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:S.560: to view the Senate bill and http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c111:2:./temp/~c111IPg9ar:: to view the house bill.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

AFL-CIO Employee Free Choice Act NOW

This video says it all.

Safe limits on Nurses Overtime

I am seeking legislation in the state of Tennessee to limit voluntary overtime and make mandatory overtime illegal except in circumstances of declared emergency. I appreciate an input you would like to offer.

The studies are conclusive that nurses who work greater than 12 hour shifts or do not have at least a 10-12 hour break for rest between shifts are three times more likely to commit an error that reaches a patient. The studies have also agreed that the hours a nurse works in a week should generaly be no more than 60 and that should be rare.

As a nurse I and every nurse I know want to avoid errors and provide safe care for our patients. Nurses are frequently pressured to work overtime through large monetary incentives, pressure from managment to be " a team player", the fact that you do or do not take overtime has even been part of some evaluations I have had in the past. With this said, nurses often agree to overtime when they otherwise might not. Most do not however see the potential risk to their license or the patient in their care that they are taking.

Just like the limits for truckers on how long they may drive and pilots on how long they may fly, we need legislation that puts some safe and sound limits on how long we as nurses may work.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sen. Durbin at the Employee Free Choice Act Rally

Listen to what is said. It is not unions that are or have destroyed America and its ability to compete. It is the corporate greed and bloated paychecks and bonuses of the CEO's that have and are currently damaging our system.

We must pass the Employee Free Choice Act and restore fairness to the work place and ensure that the right to organize is protected. The corporate abuse must stop and this legislation will go along way to achieve fairness in the work place. Don't believe the hype on fox news or the antiunion campaigns by corporate big wigs who stand to lose if the workers are able to get the contracts that ensure a fair and living wage.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Born Again American

A great message to all Americans to get involved. I am not a religious in any way but agree with the moral message of this song and encourage all those moved by its message to get involved.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

HCA: Profit and Greed on the backs of their workforce.

This is a bulletin I recently received from the CNA showing how HCA is once again stiffing the worker while lining their own pockets and getting richer off the backs of their dedicated workforce. It is very enlightening but not surprising.

HCA Execs Getting Wealthier
Many HCA RNs are reeling from the loss of retirement security resulting from the company’s decision to eliminate their pension and transfer their earnings to a 401(k) which has seen losses of up to 40%. For some this means putting off their retirement – for others it spells financial doom. Some HCA hospitals are laying off ancillary workers, trimming the hours of part-timers and reducing use of more-expensive temporary nurses hired through agencies. Recently we told you that, in Tennessee, HCA is cutting 110 jobs and closing most functions at its Portland hospital, laying off roughly 100 headquarters staffers, and at Centennial Hospital eliminating RN raises, the night shift differential and decreasing RN holiday pay.
So what are the top administrators of HCA doing to shoulder their share of the burden? HCA tells us these cuts –and the ones to come – are absolutely necessary. But a simple review of HCA’s SEC filings reveals that a number of recent, large transactions have boosted the networth of a cadre of upper echelon HCA executives.
Leading off the movement to exercise stock options was:
Joseph N Steakley, Senior VP of Internal Audit Services who cashed in some stock options this week, walking away with $170,088 in cash. He still holds 17,027 more shares so expect to see him add a healthy chunck of change to his net worth soon.
Western Group President Samuel Hazen last month gave up 14,151 shares leaving him with a paper gain of $432,000.
Next up the line was Senior Vice President Vic Campbell who excercised 55,215 shares generating more than $800,000.
CFO Milton Johnson excercised his option to buy 87,180 shares. His net worth gain: $1.4 million.
And truly leading the pack was General Counsel Robert Waterman who acquired 1.78 million worth of shares for a paper profit of $2.2 million.
All told the group boosted its networth by roughly 4.9 million dollars.
Anyone still buying the line that we all need to sacrifice during these tough economic times? It’s very clear that those of us who are paying the price are doing so to the benefit of others.

Read the full story. This link will take you to the Nashville news paper article where the information above was sourced from.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why union check cards are the answer.

The article below is taken from the National Workrights Institute website at http://www.workrights.org/issue_organize.html. The article is the best arguement that I have read for changing the current election system to that of union check cards. Please read and post your comments and concerns.


REPRESENTATION ELECTIONS UNDER THE NLRACAN THE SYSTEM BE FIXED?
It has been well known for years that the union representation election process under the National Labor Relations Act is seriously flawed and fails to reflect the desires of a majority of workers. Many scholars and activists have made proposals for reforming the NLRA election system. Others believe that the system is inherently unworkable and cannot be fixed. These individuals believe that the solution is to eliminate elections and substitute the card check system.
The first step in resolving this crucial issue is recognizing that it cannot be answered in the abstract. The controlling principle is that the decision regarding whether or not a group of workers is represented by a union is that the decision should represent the will of the majority. Whether to hold elections or use card check is not a matter of principle, but a pragmatic issue. The method used to make this decision (card check or election) should be the method which best implements the wishes of the workers.
The most serious problem with the current election system is that one side has a near monopoly of access to the voters (workers). The employer can hold unlimited meetings to put forth its arguments against the union. The union is not allowed to speak at these meetings. Neither are workers who support the union. Nor are workers allowed to stay away. Under the Act, employers are permitted to make attending these anti-union meetings a condition of employment. The union, in contrast, is not even allowed into the facility to talk to the workers.
Clearly, this is unfair. The results of a political election would never be recognized as legitimate under these circumstances. If an election based system is to be maintained, the problem of unequal access must be solved.
The captive audience problem can be solved. The NLRA could be amended to require that the union be given equal time, either at the same meeting at which the employer makes its presentation, or at a separate meeting. The rules could be changed so that the conditions of attendance (voluntary or mandatory) were the same for both. Employers would vigorously oppose such a change in the law, and it would be difficult to accomplish politically, but there is no principled reason why this change cannot be made.
This alone, however, does not solve the equal access problem. Employers do not confine their communication to formal meetings. During an organizing campaign, management communicates its message constantly. Even the most casual conversation between management and workers frequently contains a statement or question regarding the upcoming election. For the election process to be fair, the union would have to be given the opportunity for the same type of communication. This would mean giving representatives of the union unrestricted and unsupervised access to the workplace. Such a system, however, is completely unworkable. Having outsiders wandering around the facility talking to anyone they want to whenever they want would completely disrupt production. It could even be a safety hazard. Imagine outsiders, who do not know the facility, walking around a steel mill or refinery without supervision.
This represents a fatal defect in the election model. The election is not fair unless both sides have comparable access to the voters. But giving the union such access is impossible.
The other critical problem with elections is employer coercion. Literally thousands of workers are fired every year for trying to organize. This not only denies the rights of these workers, but intimidates other workers as well. Firing a handful of workers is often enough to stop an organizing campaign in its tracks. A solution to this problem must be found if the election model is to be retained.
On paper, the problem can be solved. Any behavior which is motivated by a rational expectation of gain can be deterred if the penalty is sufficiently severe and the probability of being caught is high enough. In practice, however, it may be insoluble. The economic gains to an employer by keeping its workforce non-union are substantial. Unionized workers make at least 20% more than non-union workers in comparable jobs. A large employer can save literally millions of dollars by violating the NLRA. In addition, employers have deep personal resistance to sharing power with workers. The penalty required to overcome the combined resistance of these two factors would be huge, possibly large enough to threaten the financial health of the company (and the continued existence of the workers’ jobs). Criminal penalties against offending managers would have adequate deterrent effect, but it is questionable at best that our country is prepared to take this step.
The severity of both these problems would be greatly reduced under card check. Under card check, the decision-making period would no longer be approximately seven weeks. Instead, it would be months, or even years. With essentially unlimited time to get its message across, the union’s inferior access to the workers would be far less of a problem.
An unlimited decision making period would also diminish the impact of coercion. The time and effort required of management to keep the pressure on during an organizing drive is substantial. As a practical matter, an employer simply cannot keep holding frequent captive audience meetings forever, nor can it turn every discussion with a worker into an anti-union sales pitch forever. Over time, the focus must return to producing and selling the product.
It is often claimed that card check is a one sided process in which the union “sells” workers on organizing while the employer, unaware of the campaign, is silent. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing in the card check system prevents an employer from explaining its views about unions to workers as part of its regular employee communications program. Sophisticated employers do this already.
Moreover, an employer will still be able to amplify their message during an organizing campaign under card check. In virtually every company, there are some employees who are opposed to joining a union. When these employees become aware that a union is collecting cards, they will tell management. This will allow management to step up their communications during critical periods.
Even under card check, the employer continues to have the upper hand. It has easy access to the workers daily, while the union has to struggle to locate workers away from the facility. Even with a list of the workers’ home addresses (which the employer is required to provide under the Excelsior decision), communicating with workers away from the company is difficult and inefficient.
The employer also continues to have far more ability to coerce those it has not persuaded. In the absence of a union, workers are employees at will. They can be fired for any reason, fair or unfair, or for no reason at all. The employer also controls promotions, pay raises, vacation scheduling and many other decisions that seriously affect a worker and his or her family. Even if gross retaliation (such as firing the leaders of an organizing effort) can be effectively prevented, an employer retains the ability to do great harm to a worker whom it views as a negative influence. This power vastly surpasses any ability employees favoring the union may have to arm twist a few “voters” in a closely divided company.
Overall, card check is a better method to determine whether workers will be represented by a union. The employer has unfair advantages under the election model that cannot be eliminated. Under card check, however, the effect of these advantages is greatly reduced so that the ultimate decision more often reflects the desire of the workers.

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, http://www.calnurses.org/nnoc/about-nnoc.html 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, http://nurseadvocates.blogspot.com/ , 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, http://www.freechoiceact.org/page/s/aflcio 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 http://www.leapforpatientsafety.org/ 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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