Protecting Our Nurses

September Op-ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News

There’s an urgent need to upgrade the way health care is being delivered—and not to patients. Nurses are now more likely than law enforcement to have a violent injury claim—and, according to the BC Nurses Union, violent incidents are being under-reported by as much as 70%. In an attempt to raise public awareness and support, the BCNU recently released a series of videos so shocking and graphic it makes me wonder how many nurses have post-traumatic stress disorder. (“Violence. Not Part of the Job” on YouTube)

Some hospitals, especially rural ones, have no security guard on staff so entrance doors have to be locked after hours. People who go to the Emergency Room must ring the nighttime doorbell and the nurse on duty decides whether or not to let the person in—or call the RCMP to attend first.

That decision is complicated by the severity of the person’s injury: if someone is bleeding heavily, for example, the nurse’s instinct to protect life can override her instinct to protect herself. And on the night shift in a small hospital when only two nurses are on duty, if the nurse lets the person in and then finds herself in danger, the other nurse can be in a different area and way out of earshot.

There’s been so much shame and silence around mental illness in our society that there are gaps in our collective knowledge and awareness. I don’t like to talk about the mental illness in my family, but my elderly mother is mentally ill and now living in long-term care. Despite being medicated, she can have sudden violent outbursts if she gets frustrated or triggered. And she is still physically strong so I sure feel for the nurses who care for her. Yet they do their job with such steely, cheerful professionalism—not to mention kindness and compassion. Maybe their professionalism is another reason why we don’t realize just how risky a nurse’s job can be.

When you ponder what needs to change, some questions arise. How it is that WorkSafe BC has policies which protect workers from violence in the workplace and yet hospitals can sometimes be so dangerous? What’s the hold-up to upgrading safety? Shouldn’t there be a security guard on duty during the night shift? Shouldn’t it become standard practice that nurses work in pairs? And what about providing nurses with alert communication devices they wear on their uniform (such as Vocera) which instantly calls for help if the nurse finds herself in danger?

If the healthcare industry was adequately funded by the federal and provincial governments there would be more money to invest in safety measures. It’s time to let our elected representatives know that we stand with nurses and want a better job done to protect them from violence.

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Provincial Liberal MLA Jackie Tegart’s phone number is (250) 453-9726. Her email address is jackie.tegart.mla@leg.bc.ca

Federal Liberal MP Jati Sidhu’s phone number is (604) 814-5710. His email address is Jati.Sidhu@parl.gc.ca

 

 

 

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The 1% and The 2%

June Op-ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News

Given the daily fiascos in American politics it might be easy to miss the fact that the Military Industrial Complex is doubling its revenue, now that President Rump has convinced/ frightened all NATO members into increasing their military spending.

I’m not sure when it happened, maybe it was when the millions of refugees started pouring out of the Middle East, but it dawned on me that our global community is constantly being manipulated by a small group of weapons dealers, all of whom are virtually invisible and unknown to the rest of us.

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We Need a Dog Park

April Op-ed for Bridge River Lillooet News

I’m tempted to write about Rump and Pooh Tin because there’s so much to criticize about those billionaire politicians but let’s talk about dogs of a better kind.

Dogs are by nature social animals who live in packs. Sure, they successfully live with humans but they still need to be among their kind on a regular basis.

When dogs aren’t socialized they develop behaviour problems like neurotic barking or chronic aggression, not to mention destroying a yard by digging holes or harassing anything that moves. There’s a difference between a dog that’s guarding its property and one that’s acting out because it’s desperate to join the activity going on beyond the fence.

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Migrants & Melania

Thus far in the global migrant crisis Canada’s border has been quiet, mostly due to our geography/isolation. But now that the U.S. is closing in on itself and relegating immigration to a zone of fear and instability, we have seen a threefold spike in the number of refugees/migrants coming across.

You know people are desperate when they trudge north through waist-deep snow and brutal winds in the deepest, darkest winter for 10 hours to the border, losing fingers and toes to frostbite in the process. Now that spring is whispering in the wings and soon the weather will be warm, this trickle could very well turn into a torrent. The New Yorker reported on an underground railroad poised to launch the migrants they are currently housing and protecting. Soon we may see our nation’s claim of racial tolerance tested.

On another note, Melania Trump has been on my mind for a long while; I’m not alone in wondering what kind of man Rump is in private and what she must endure. In one of the protest rallies outside the NYC Rump Tower someone held up a sign that read: Melania, blink twice if you need to be rescued.

This week, 22 Minutes, Canada’s troupe of irreverent comics who riff on current political topics, put out their latest video: “Mrs. Trump, this is the third time this week.”

So I’m posting it here, because we’re all holding our breath and it’s Funny Bone Friday, Episode #12

 

Keeping Ourselves Safe

January Op-Ed for Bridge River Lillooet News

A friend had a frightening encounter last summer while walking with her dog on the road near the Old Bridge. Two men in a white BMW SUV drove up alongside and kept pace with her steps. The driver acted friendly and told her she was beautiful. The other guy stared straight ahead and didn’t speak; he looked at her only once and it was with hatred in his eyes. She recalled afterward that she thought to herself, What’s his problem?

The driver asked if she had a boyfriend. He asked if she’d get in the vehicle and help with directions. She knew she was in trouble. Steep terrain on both sides, no safe escape. Luckily, a pick-up truck came along and she stepped into the road, forcing it to stop. Then the white SUV took off.

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