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.

* * *

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

 

 

 

Advertisements

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

The Wizards of Pipelines and Fracking

December Op-ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News

What position must we take when our politicians continue to be environmental laggards? This past week Prime Minister Trudeau actually had the gall to say—indignantly—that he wouldn’t have approved the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline if he thought doing so would be harmful to BC’s coast. Could someone please inform our PM that preventing human error and controlling storms at sea are not among his impressive abilities?

His arrogance reminded me of the doctor I had in my early 20s. I’d gone to see him about getting birth control. I sat facing him and his big, oak desk and said that I had some concern about the long-term effect on my health if I went on the pill. The good doctor snubbed his cigarette into a plate-sized ashtray and bellowed, “Do you think I would give it to you if I thought it would harm you?”

Continue reading

Encounter at Hangman’s Lane

September Op-Ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News

Recently I went for my first-ever walk to Cayoosh Park with my sister and Missy, her little Chihuahua cross. It was a beautiful, blustery day. We circled the downed hangman’s tree and I thought about the men who’d been hung on this hillside, how the last thing they would have seen was this same spectacular vista I was seeing, the same impressive mountains and Fraser River.

I figured that from some locations down below people would have been able to look up to the hillside and see a body hanging. You’d think the poor souls might have been hung with less public spectacle, but I guess that was the point, to instill fear, to showcase that rough, harsh justice.

Continue reading

Insert Your New Ideas Here

June Op-ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News

In less than 6 weeks the online passenger train petition has 1,150 signatures, and counting. (https://www.change.org/p/premier-gov-bc-ca-bring-back-the-north-vancouver-to-prince-george-passenger-train) The Facebook page—Bring Back the BC Passenger Train—has hundreds of Likes and shares so far. People are keen to have the service.

But as I connect with people and do research, one negative keeps cooling the excitement: even though population, highway traffic, and tourism have significantly increased since the train was cancelled in 2002, would ridership be enough to make a new service profitable?

To that negative train of thought (sorry, the puns abound) I would say this: it’s time to think beyond old-school revenue models. Why force ridership to be the sole profit generator? Let’s re-imagine the passenger train concept and find ways to maximize the infrastructure in terms of the incoming green economy.

Continue reading