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.

Name Withheld by Request

Hollywood

The JMH Motto

Work like crazy and keep your mouth shut: I am a registered nurse working in one of the intensive care units at Jackson Memorial Hospital, and I would just like to say that my colleagues and I wholeheartedly applaud the nurse from SICU who wrote to New Times regarding the poor quality of patient care at this facility. All areas of Jackson are feeling the pinch as president Marvin O'Quinn and his administrators cut services and expect us to do more and more with less and less.

None of us was surprised to hear about Forrest Norman's mother-in-law, a transplant patient who had to clean the bathroom herself. There are so few environmental workers in the hospital, particularly at night, that it is difficult to get a bedspace cleaned (which may be covered in blood and other body fluids) within three hours so that an emergency admission can be accepted. In addition, the hospital equipment is poorly maintained and frequently breaks down. Many of the beds in the critical care areas have large tears in the mattresses that allow body fluids to seep through; these are obviously not removed by superficial cleaning.

All of these things are brought to the attention of the nurse managers but nothing is done because of budget cuts. Meanwhile our patients are becoming infected with resistant types of bacteria. The nurse-to-patient ratios in many areas are unsafe and leave the staff unable to provide any type of care except the absolute basics.

Incidentally, after New Times published the letter "Speaking as a Nurse," the nurse manager of the surgical intensive-care unit e-mailed all of his staff, criticizing the letter-writer. Mr. O'Quinn doesn't want to provide us with the means to care for our patients in the manner they deserve, but he also wants us to keep our mouths shut about how bad things really are.

Name Withheld by Request

Miami

My Uncle Is Not Demented

His name is Dick Judy and he shouldn't be diagnosed by a couple of cops: In Francisco Alvarado's article "Tales of Teele" (July 28), Miami-Dade Police detectives stated in their investigative report into Art Teele that my uncle, Dick Judy, is suffering from dementia. As a result of that allegation I received many telephone calls from caring friends about my uncle's mental well-being and condition.

I am writing, therefore, to set the record straight concerning my uncle's level of mental capacity. Dementia, which is defined as a deterioration of intellectual facilities caused by organic disease of the brain, is not an ailment from which my uncle is suffering. He does have a minor speech impediment, a condition that might appear to the layperson as a form of impairment, mental or otherwise. It should be obvious, though, that the two police officers who interviewed my uncle concerning the work he did for Miami's Community Redevelopment Agency and Mr. Teele are neither qualified nor capable of assessing and diagnosing a person's level of mental functioning and ability. The fact that they did so in an official report is careless at best and egregious at worst.

The detectives and readers of New Times should be further advised that while my uncle is technically a retiree, he is frequently called upon as a consultant to governmental agencies to assist in high-level strategic planning projects that fall within his realm of expertise, aviation.

I would request that the official report submitted by the detectives in the Teele matter be amended to correctly reflect the notably superior level of cognitive function and ability of Mr. Dick Judy.

Jeff Scott Judy

Miami

You Want Avant-Garde?

We got your avant-garde right here: Regarding Julienne Gage's "Crown of Thorns" (July 21), I would like to congratulate New Times for having the courage to bring a cutting-edge "popular art form" to the public's attention. I knew in my heart that my booger sculptures were art.

David Cox III

Coral Gables

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