Letters from the Issue of September 8, 2005

Hoops hype, bickering nurses, and cops as doctors

Hoops Hype

Got game? Come to Flamingo Park and we'll see about that: Having read Forrest Norman's great article "Streetball Legends" (August 25), I would like to invite him to see the South Beach streetball at Flamingo Park (Thirteenth Street and Meridian Avenue). Any day of the week between five o'clock in the afternoon until after the lights come on, you will see the best hoops played in Miami-Dade County. And I should know -- I've played streetball in local parks for the past 50 years.

So come on down to Flamingo and bring your best game.

Roger Gold

Miami Beach

Journalism and Willful Ignorance

Had Forrest Norman done the right thing, he wouldn't have had a story: I can't offer an opinion on Forrest Norman's complaints about the problems he and his family claim they experienced at Jackson Memorial Hospital ("Disappearing Nurses," August 11). I can, however, take exception to the title "Disappearing Nurses." If Mr. Norman had concerns about the care his mother-in-law and other patients on West Wing 15 were receiving, it would have been easily addressed by immediately going to the floor's charge nurse, assistant nurse manager, or the nurse manager of the floor.

As for his contention that he was not aware of JMH's patient-relations department, I find that impossible to believe based on the materials we are required to provide to patients and their families. Family members of critically ill patients are often overwhelmed, stressed, and at times resentful and even angry. Many times their anger is directed at those who provide hands-on care for the patient. I know the staff nurses, patient-care technicians, nursing assistants, transplant coordinators, and nurse liaisons are a caring and dedicated group of professionals. This is a highly specialized area of nursing, and the staff of West Wing 15 should be rightfully proud of their care.

Enough on this Forrest Norman dude. Regarding the August 18 letter titled "Speaking as a Nurse," from an anonymous individual: What is that all about? As an experienced neuroscience nurse on West Wing 8 (25 years and counting), I am offended by the author's contention that the SICU staff (I suspect) fight to keep transplant patients in the ICU, implying that good care ends with the discharge of the patient from the ICU environment. That is categorically untrue. Patients stable enough for follow-up floor care require a different type of nursing.

I have never in my entire professional career communicated such an inappropriate and unprofessional attitude to any of my patients. I use my educational skills to teach family members and significant others how to care for their loved ones, how to assess for problems, when and how to notify nursing or medical staff of problems or concerns they may have. Communication and information and hands-on teaching are keys to the successful transfer of the ICU patient to any floor at any hospital on planet Earth.

The author says things are grim at Jackson? Who does he or she work for? Yes, we are now in negotiations with the administration. Both sides are playing the game, which is why they are called negotiations. SEIU [Service Employees International Union] has proven itself to be a good union, so let's keep our "family problems" within the family and stop it with the public airing of our issues in the community at large.

I do not salute Forrest Norman. He chose to bellyache in New Times without first bringing his concerns to the management of West Wing 15, to JMH management, or to patient relations. If he truly wanted to address his concerns, he would have done so appropriately.

Erika E. Kimmel, RN

NSICU, West Wing 8

Jackson Memorial Hospital

Miami

Doing the Right Thing Is Pointless

Going through channels at JMH is an exercise in futility: Congratulations to Forrest Norman on "Disappearing Nurses." Let's just say there are many, many former Jackson nurses who bailed out because of the problems he mentioned in the article. It will also probably startle readers to know that West Wing 15 is one of the better-staffed units because of the transplant service; other floors have fewer staff and share one or two housekeepers with the entire building.

The entire thrust of JMH is "how does it look" rather than "how are we doing." They have spent millions and millions on consulting and public relations firms while they refuse to hire nurses or to allow overtime for staffing shortages. They have created more and more administrative positions, fueled more and more committees, and hired fewer and fewer support services, leaving clinical nurses to meet the expectations.

Had Forrest Norman called patient relations, he would have had someone respond who would have murmured sympathetically and written a report that looked like a million other reports. The nurses would have been chided and scolded for not being janitors, a committee would have been formed, and so on. The fact is that JMH has beaucoup highly paid nonpatient-care employees "setting the mark," and a hiring freeze for nurses and janitors.

For fun, Mr. Norman should attend a session of union bargaining for SEIU. He would find it most enlightening. I hope his mother-in-law does well despite the best efforts of JMH.

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