NEW YORK NURSE: July/August 2011
by Alison Munday
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the World Medical Association (WMA) called upon Bahraini authorities to ensure fairness for the 47 nurses and doctors on trial by the military for treating injured protestors during the recent political unrest in the country. Many of the defendants worked at the Salmaniya medical complex in the capital Manama, which the government claims was a coordination point for protests in March. The health professionals went on trial in front of a closed security court in June charged with participating in efforts to overthrow the Bahraini monarchy and taking part in illegal rallies. A representative of Bahrain’s Center for Human Rights described how the workers were permitted only to respond with “guilty” or “not guilty,” after they insisted on speaking out in court about signing false confessions and being tortured. One anesthesiologist who described torture at the hands of her captors was escorted from the hearing. A joint statement issued by the ICN and WMA said, in part, “Doctors and nurses have an ethical duty to care for patients irrespective of their race, color, creed and political affiliation. No health professional should be put on trial for looking after injured and dying people…we urge world leaders to take all necessary measures to ensure that health professionals are allowed to carry out their work unhindered.”
Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has cleared the way for significant cuts to collective bargaining rights to go ahead, by reversing a lower court’s decision that anti-union legislation had been passed improperly. In a 4-3 decision on June 14, the state’s supreme court ruled that a lower court judge overstepped her authority when she declared Republican lawmakers had violated the state’s open meeting statute—which requires a 24-hour notice period—in the run-up to the passage of the new law. In its written decision, the court stated the legislature had not violated the state’s constitution when it relied on its “interpretation of its own rules of proceeding” and gave less than two hours’ notice before meeting and voting on the law, which then passed in the absence of the senate’s 14 Democrats. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, claimed the law, which also calls for public employees to pay more for their health care and pensions, was necessary to address the state’s $3.6 billion shortfall, and to afford local governments flexibility on labor costs. Once again, with news of the reversal, demonstrators started to descend upon Wisconsin’s capitol.
Farmers markets will be cropping up again at several New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) hospital campuses this summer, through late autumn. The collaboration between HHC, Harvest Home and Greenmarket offers healthy and affordable dietary options—fresh fruits and vegetables—in neighborhoods where they might not be easily found. It is part of a citywide and nationwide effort to improve the eating habits of children and adults, and to control some of the chronic conditions that affect many patients. Customers can pay for their goods using cash, EBT cards (food stamps), Health Bucks, Green Checks, Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program coupons, and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) coupons. The markets debuted in June at Coney Island Hospital, and others will be hosted at Metropolitan Hospital Center; Jacobi Hospital Center; North Central Bronx Hospital; Lincoln Hospital; Queens Hospital Center, and Elmhurst Hospital Center. A more complete listing of market locations and operating hours can be seen at www.nyc.gov/html/hhc/html/newsletter/201006-farmer-markets.shtml
Excelsior College in Albany has named Mary Lee Pollard as its new dean of nursing. Pollard has served as the associate dean of Excelsior’s School of Nursing since 2007, with primary responsibility for academic advisement of the associate degree program. The new appointment gives her oversight of all three of the College’s nursing programs at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels. Pollard entered nursing in 1982 and later went on to become the director of the Ellis Hospital School of Nursing in Schenectady, NY. She earned her BS in nursing from Syracuse University, a master’s degree in nursing from Russell Sage College in Troy, NY and a doctorate in philosophy from SUNY Albany. She is the recipient of several regional nursing excellence awards and awards of distinction, and serves as secretary and board member of the Schenectady Free Clinic. Excelsior’s School of Nursing is the largest in the nation, with nearly 16,000 enrolled nursing students, and approximately 2,000 nurses graduating each year. More than 80 percent of Excelsior’s nursing students are working professionals between 30 and 60 years of age.
New York City Health and Hospital Corporation (HHC) has announced the launch of a mandatory employee training program that is designed to improve access to health care for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) individuals and to help reduce health disparities related to sexual orientation and gender identification. The training is intended to teach staff to provide respectful, patient-centered competent healthcare services to thousands of LGBT New Yorkers served by public hospitals, community health centers and nursing homes. The curriculum will promote staff awareness about sexual orientation and gender identity and increased health risks among LGBT individuals; ensure healthcare providers are better equipped to make the most accurate assessments and appropriate referrals, and help increase adherence to treatment among LGBT patients. The training also serves to underscore how important it is for healthcare providers to show openness, use inclusive language, welcome and normalize disclosure of sexual orientation and gender identity, and use that increased knowledge to provide better patient-centered care.