Commentary

Letters

Page 2 of 3

Dan Overland
Westminster

"Organized Chaos," by Julie Jargon, February 10, 2000

Thank you for Julie Jargon's "Organized Chaos," in the February 10 issue, regarding Denver-area nurses organizing to fight unfair and unsafe working conditions. A recent 20/20 program also addressed how hospitals have reduced RN staffing and replaced nurses with non-licensed assistive personnel, and the negative impact on patient care and outcome as a result. The American Nurses Association has long maintained that inadequate RN staffing has put patient care in jeopardy. I congratulate Denver nurses for their courage to address these issues.

This conflict is not about salaries, though the idea that $15.50 an hour is "competitive" is almost comical. In 1993, R.N. Magazine reported that the average salary in the Rocky Mountain region was $16.70 an hour. How odd that during a critical shortage of nurses, salaries have decreased in seven years. Could this be attributed to wage-fixing?

While nurses have seen their wages and benefits diminish along with staffing, we have seen our workload increase dramatically. Today hospital patients require more skilled nursing. Patients are admitted to floors with endotracheal tubes, open-heart surgery patients are sometimes out of ICU in 24 hours, and many patients have multiple intravenous lines with infusion pumps for multiple medications. A patient newly admitted to a floor can consume at least one hour of a nurse's time, while he or she may already have eight patients and be responsible for an LPN's patients who may require the RN to perform some advanced care; at the same time, the RN must deal with any emergency that may arise. If we voice our concerns about these issues, we often see our positions deleted.

As responsibility for the RN increases, so does the liability. If a nurse makes a serious mistake, his or her license could be up for review by the State Board of Nursing, not to mention that he or she could face a malpractice lawsuit and even possibly be charged with criminal negligence. But hospital staffing at the time of the error is rarely addressed.

Patient safety is at risk when hospitals reduce their RN staffing. California nurses organized to pass legislation to mandate specific nurse-patient ratios, prohibit unlicensed personnel to perform invasive procedures and restrict floating nurses to another floor where they have no orientation or expertise. Now it is time for Colorado nurses to speak up, not only for their patients' safety, but also for their own professional safety and integrity.

This is an important election year, and nurses represent the largest health-care provider in the country. It is time to make our concerns public.

Marty Smith
Boulder

"Organized Chaos" shows the results of the massive anti-worker, anti-union propaganda campaign instigated by the capitalist upper class. Their highly successful, pre-union busting strategy is to keep working people fragmented and divided. They want whites fighting with blacks, men fighting with women, employed fighting with the unemployed. Keep the pot stirred. Keep the tension level up. Keep the working class off balance. Divide. Conquer. Control!

John Cassella

Denver

"Origin of the Specious," by Juliet Wittman, February 10, 2000

Thanks for Juliet Wittman's controversy-perpetuating February 10 article, "Origin of the Specious." I was staring at the "mad" Wartella cartoon on the cover, trying to ascertain where I stand on the evolutionary scumbag scale, feeling grateful that in this modern age, I don't need to club my cyber-porn babes into submission. Then I turned the page, and what greeted me on page 3? A hot little breeder chick in an ad who appeared to be "just asking for it."

Seriously, I feel that scientists have this hyper-rational need to quantify everything, including human behavior. Rape has no single motive any more than murder does. I have a qualitative notion that on the anger/lust scale, the act of forced sex is more about release than punishment -- because erection cannot be faked and is dependent on arousal, which is primal and sexual in nature, not conditioned. Sure, we've all been told that in certain deviant individuals, anger/revenge is a turn-on, and then the rod becomes an instrument of retribution for real or imagined wrongs. Then again, the percentage of these individuals among the male population is so infinitesimal, the whole issue becomes an exercise in "deviant fascination," which all of us seem to have, to some degree.

Except, of course, for the victims and their loved ones. (I have been a loved one on two different occasions; the rapists were never caught, to our knowledge.) For them (and us), the inference that all males are genetically programmed to impregnate breeder females by any means is an insult to every healthy heterosexual relationship everywhere.

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