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Hospitals Must Value Nursing Staffs

October 30, 2002

Re "Nurses Locked Out in Pension Fight," Oct. 24: Having recently undergone surgery for advanced ovarian cancer, I know what it's like to be solely dependent on a stranger when you're in no condition to sit up on your own, stand, walk, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, get through the pain and even fall asleep without the help of a nurse.

I thank God that my nurses had that time to help me. I'm thankful there were enough nurses on my floor to look after every one of us, for the assurances and smiles that made me less scared and for never being abandoned or forgotten or suffering needless pain. Long Beach nurses are on the right track to remind their hospital that they share a responsibility to patients -- together -- and that the hospital must help them provide the best care possible. I hope for the patients' sake that the hospital listens.

Angela Lemire

Los Angeles

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"Nursing Crisis Is a Threat to Health," as the headline of your Oct. 24 commentary says, not only for patients but also for nurses because of the physical, mental and emotional stress brought on by heavy workloads carried often without sufficient help from nursing assistants, a crucial link in the proper care of hospital patients. A good aide can make all the difference, allowing RNs more quality time to give to their patients. However, another extremely important connection is the often strained relationship with physicians.

As long as doctors, starting from the first-year resident to the specialist and surgeon, relegate nurses to the bottom of the hierarchy -- but expect them to be responsible for every aspect of a patient's care -- the high burnout rate will continue.

Nurses are professional and courteous not only to their patients but also to patients' families, supervisors, physicians, residents, therapists and technicians, no matter how tired and stressed. As long as physicians are not being challenged to do the same, too many demagogues will continue to make nursing an unsatisfying career -- and get away with it.

Erika Blos RN

Santa Barbara

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