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'Demands of County Nurses'

February 19, 1988

Gamble's article is one of the most self-serving rationalizations I have ever read. He alleges that raising the wages of nurses would greatly endanger the entire health-care system; that nurses, who have three years of professional education, are adequately compensated and therefore their requests for a reasonable wage are avaricious.

As a spokesman for the Hospital Council, he conveniently forgets that for most of this century, the nursing profession underwrote medical care in hospitals by receiving less than adequate wages. Only when the private hospitals and large hospital corporations were raking in enormous profits did the nurses ask for a reasonable wage.

It is also obvious that Gamble either has not been in a hospital ward on a day-to-day basis, or he is purposely distorting in his own mind how these wards function. The nurse, who in effect, acts as maid, linen changer, waitress, dispenser of medication, surrogate doctor, comforter, confidant, and counselor to patients and families, is the indispensable ingredient of the modern hospital. In view of the salaries that hospital administrators, their accountants, their lawyers and corporate executives receive, to begrudge this absolutely essential personnel a reasonable wage is unfair in the short term and self-destructive to hospital medicine in the long term.

J. GARY DAVIDSON, MD

Tarzana

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