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Nursing Unions Put Patients At Risk

Only in the United States could a virus like H1N1 bring out the worst in medical politics and greed. We are facing a “pandemic” that requires coordination, communication and the best of medical practice. But what are we getting? Strikes, lawsuits and anything BUT putting patients first!

The strong nursing union, California Nurse Association (CNA), is taking this opportunity to call a strike on three large Catholic hospital chains (including 34 hospitals) throughout California and Nevada. The union bosses say the chief concerns are a lack of protective gear, improper isolation techniques and staffing that requires nurses to work (oh horrors!) 12 hour shifts during the flu crisis.

Although the nurses seem to want to walk out during a pandemic to “protect patients”, the nurses in New York and Washington also filed a lawsuit over the idea that they should be required to get the flu vaccine. You can’t have it both ways, nurses! You either want protection or you don’t. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Video: Healthcare Reform: Putting Patients First

Better Health bloggers from across the country participated in a historic discussion about healthcare reform at the National Press Club on July 17th, 2009. I managed to condense a 3 hour event into a 4 minute video… for those of you who were unable to make it, here’s my highlight reel… Thanks to Freddie Dorn at Picture This Video for helping to create it!

Tilting At Windmills In Washington

Once again, I have to thank Dr. Val Jones for setting up the Putting Patients First event at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Friday. For a full summary of the pagentry, Dr. Rich does a much better job summarizing the whole event than I ever could, though I was uh, surprised about what he said of me (thanks, dude).

But one thing he forgot to mention was the moment when our moderator asked us what struck us most about what Congressman Paul Ryan had to say in his speech to us. I, being ever soft-spoken, piped up that I was struck that no one had read the bill and it was already on its way to the floor after being completely “marked up” early that very same morning.

So, while we might not have been chasing windmills at this event, I couldn’t help but wonder if it might come to this (with appologies to GA Harker, whose illustration I couldn’t help but Photoshop):

Click image to enlarge


*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Emergiblog In DC: The Panel, the Politics and the Ce-Ment Pond

RyanPodiumThis is Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, speaking at the Better Health “Putting Patients First” event  in D.C.

I should talk about how passionately he spoke about health care reform (he did), about why he does not believe government should be running health care (he doesn’t) or that he took the time to come and speak at 8 am even though he had been up until 2 am working on the health care bill (he did) or that he spoke right up until he – literally- had to run back to the House to vote (he did).

And I will talk about these things.

But first, let me state the obvious and get it out of the way so that I can go on to discuss the serious nature of the health care reform debate before us.


Seriously, is it just me or are politicians getting better looking?

There. Now I can move on to the meat of the matter.

(I had to say it because you all know I was thinking it!)


This event marked my first time in Washington, and just being there is awe-inspiring. Seeing the White House from the car window took my breath away, literally. I felt like Ellie May Clampett marveling at the ce-ment pond.  The National Press Club is a museum in and of itself.  Mother Jones and I were hoping we’d catch a glimpse of Sanjay Gupta, but he must have been off doing neurosurgery or something.


By now, you’ve probably read who was on the panel (Dr. Wes, DrRich, Dr.Rob, Dr.Kevin, me, and Better Health contributors Dr. Alan Dappen, Valerie Tinley, NP and “token” – his words, LOL – surgeon Dr. James Herndon).

I will tell you straight up that I learned much more than I contributed.

The panel shot from the hip and spoke from the heart. Some of us had notes, some of us illustrated our comments with anecdotes and one of us (*cough*) had no clue what was going to come out of her mouth until that moment.

I’ll give you a hint….it wasn’t Valerie…..


For the record, those of us on the panel were not told what to say, how to say it or what to believe, nor were we chosen based on what we do believe.  Some discussed concepts that should be taken into account no matter what plan we end up with, others were definitely against a single payer plan run by the government (*raising hand*).

The inefficiencies of national health plans of other countries were illustrated/discussed.  This hit me later: we should look at what works in those plans, not just what is wrong with them.  We don’t have to emulate them, just learn from them, and that includes the good and the bad.  It also applies to any universal form of coverage, not just a government-run plan.

Wish I had said that at the time.

So much for thinking on my feet (or on my butt, as the case may be).


There was some controversy about not having any patient bloggers on the panel.  There should have been. I hope that, as a nurse, I spoke for patients, but it was not the same as having someone there who navigates the system as a patient every single day.


The patient bloggers were in the audience, though, and if you go to Twitter you can find the live tweeting at “#patientsfirst”. There was a pretty healthy debate going on in the Twitterverse while the panel was up on the dais.

Here I am with Lisa Emrich (Brass and Ivory) and Kerri Morrone Sparling (Six Until Me). Duncan Cross was also there, but my pic was blurry!


While health care reform has been a hot topic for awhile, it was especially acute this week as the President was actively promoting a government run health care system and there seemed to be a huge sense of urgency to get what is called “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009″ passed ASAP.

The bill is over 1000 pages long.

I just downloaded it.

And Congress has not read it.

Folks, our representatives are being asked to pass legislation they have not had a chance to read.

While I will admit to being a bit unsure of exactly what happens in the Beltway (Civics classes and Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” notwithstanding), that can’t possibly be business as usual.

Can it?


I’ll say one thing: no matter what we believe, why we believe it or what our role is in the health care system, it is a conversation rife with strong opinions and passionate debate.

And, in the end, because we are all patients in one form or another at some point in our lives, the conversation is about us.

So, when you hear the phrase “putting patients first”, think of it as “putting me first”.

That may help you get a foothold in the morass of information that is the health care debate.

It worked for me.

*This blog post was originally published at Emergiblog*

Thoughts From The Official Twitter Reporter Of The Medblogger National Press Club Event

“The doctor will see you now.” I’m hoping to hear those golden words soon because I’m sitting in my primary care physician’s office on my day off from work. I’m lucky that I have a primary care physician who is still taking new patients. Did you know that a lot of primary care doctors are struggling to keep their doors open? That was just one of the issues that healthcare bloggers were talking about last week in Washington, D.C.

I was honored to receive an invitation to serve as the official Twitter Reporter for Better Health’s Putting Patients First event. The summit on healthcare reform took place last week at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. I sat under the Twitter Gallery sign (pictured above) during the conference. The experience was amazing, but I’d like to make two suggestions to the management of the National Press Club. First, please install more electric wall sockets in your building. There were no wall sockets to plug my computer into during the conference, so my battery almost went dead while I was tweeting. Next, please have Anderson Cooper onsite when I’m in the building. He’s hot.

I was happy to finally get to meet the people behind the blogs that I read everyday. I met Kim from Emergiblog, Dr. Wes, DrRich, Dr.Rob, Dr.Kevin, and Better Health contributors Dr. Alan Dappen, Valerie Tinley, NP and Dr. James Herndon. I sat in the Twitter Gallery with Kerri Morrone Sparling from Six Until Me , Dr. Edwin Leap, and Evan Falchuk from See First Blog. I also got to meet Lisa Emrich from Brass and Ivory, and Duncan Cross. I think Kim was a knockout in her new Calvin Klein suit. Note to Fox News: You need to hire Kim as one of your Sunday morning talking heads. She has a lot of good ideas about healthcare reform and she looked right at home at the National Press Club. She also comes complete with her own professional wardrobe.

Every blogger expressed their personal viewpoint about healthcare reform at the conference. The bloggers were not told what to say, and I was not told what to tweet, or what comments to make before, during, or after the conference. We came to D.C. to add our voices to the healthcare debate. No, I didn’t agree with everything that I heard during the conference. I thought a lot of the information presented by the keynote speakers was bunk. I’m in favor of a public option healthcare reform bill, and I don’t like the disinformation being spread via partisan politics about this important issue. I get infuriated when members of Congress from both sides of the aisle play partisan politics while my patients languish in a healthcare system that’s literally killing them. I’m really very frustrated, and I’m just like everyone else in this country that wants to give our politicians a good swift kick in the butt. What gives me hope is seeing good people from both sides of this debate coming together at a healthcare blogger conference in Washington, D.C. Healthcare providers truly want to put patients first.

*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

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