Posts Tagged Texas

Fat Nurses Need Not Apply

A Texas hospital has declared war on the scourge of obese nurses:

A Victoria [Texas]  hospital already embroiled in a discrimination lawsuit filed by doctors of Indian descent has instituted a highly unusual hiring policy: It bans job applicants from employment for being too overweight. 

The Citizens Medical Center policy, instituted a little more than a year ago, requires potential employees to have a body mass index of less than 35 — which is 210 pounds for someone who is 5-foot-5, and 245 pounds for someone who is 5-foot-10. It states that an employee’s physique “should fit with a representational image or specific mental projection of the job of a healthcare professional,” including an appearance “free from distraction” for hospital patients.

“The majority of our patients are over 65, and they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance,” hospital chief executive David Brown said in an interview. “We have the ability as an employer to characterize our process and to have a policy that says what’s best for our business and for our patients.”

It all sounds so, well, high-schoolish, and I don’t think the CEO is seventeen, though he’s acting like it. I mean, can you get any more shallow? Since when does physical appearance have anything to do with competence or worth or dignity of any health care professional?

Or maybe David Brown doesn’t really believe nurses actually have skills — we just stand around as decoration, lookin’ pretty.

And fitting the  “representational image” of hospital employees to meet patient “expectations?” What the hell does that mean, anyway? If  patients expect this (and this is a pretty common “representation”)

A representational image of a nurse

then hiring practices should make sure all nurses are boobalicious? What if the patients want all-white nurses? Or all females? Or no Muslims?

The man is a bit of a dink, obviously. I can only imagine how valued overweight nurses employed by this hospital must feel.

The article goes on to note that this David Brown, CEO of Citizens Medical Center, has some issues. In 2007  he wrote memo about some foreign-born physicians in which he  stated: “I feel a sense of disgust but am more concerned with what this means to the future of the hospital as more of our Middle-Eastern-born physicians demand leadership roles and demand influence.”  He continued, “It will change the entire complexion of the hospital and create a level of fear among our employees.”

Needless to say, there is a discrimination lawsuit over that.

So let’s summarize what the leadership at Citizens Medical Center believes: scary scary fat nurses scaring patients. Scary scary dark-skinned physicians scaring employees and patients.

Clearly a place where I would want to work. Or be treated.

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Update on the Winkler County Nurses: Maybe a Little Schadenfreude Isn’t So Bad After All

Some excellent news for the two Texas nurses maliciously charged and acquitted of misusing official information. Their persecutors, namely the sheriff, the prosecuting attorney and their former boss, have themselves been charged. How sweet it is:

Two Winkler County officials and the former hospital board administrator were indicted Thursday on charges related to the 2009-’10 case of the two whistle-blowing Winkler County nurses, according to  court documents obtained by CBS 7.

County Attorney Scott Tidwell and Sheriff Robert Roberts were indicted by a grand jury on two counts each of third-degree felony misuse of official information and retaliation, and two counts of official oppression, a class A misdemeanor.

Stan Wiley, who resigned from Winkler County Hospital in October, was indicted on two counts of retaliation.

Schadenfreude, the German phrase for taking pleasure or joy in the misery of others, usually describes a pretty miserable and petty concept. However, a small amount of gloating is entirely appropriate here. A better reason for joy, as Shawn Kennedy puts it on the AJN blog, Off the Charts:

Why is this so exciting and significant? The case outcome supports nurses who raise concerns about unsafe patient care and upholds the nurse’s right—duty, really—to advocate for patients. Hopefully, the nurses’ victory and the award from the civil suit will give pause to those who think they can intimidate nurses who are acting on good conscience and within legal and ethical boundaries.

Of course, nothing says vindication like the $750,000 in cold hard cash these nurses received in damages for their dismissal from the hospital and the prosecution. Good on them.

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In less than an hour.

A West Texas jury took but an hour Thursday to acquit a nurse who had been charged with a felony after alerting the state medical board that a doctor at her hospital was practicing unsafe medicine.

The uncommon prosecution had ignited deep concern among health care workers and advocates for whistle-blowers about a potential chilling effect on the reporting of malpractice.

But after a four-day trial in Andrews, Tex., a state court jury quickly found that the nurse, Anne Mitchell, was not guilty of the third-degree felony charge of “misuse of official information.” Conviction could have carried a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

A civil suit is now pending against the hospital, sheriff, and physician. Let’s hope they’re all spanked thoroughly, and the nurses involved get the best restitution of all: cold, hard cash.

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Punish the Nurse

I know this case as been making the rounds of the health care blogs, so if you’ve seen it before, you can perhaps safely ignore this post.

For everyone else, do you know what happens when nurses get all uppity and ethical and report a physician for breaches of safe practice? You get arrested and threatened with ten years’ imprisonment:

When veteran nurse Anne Mitchell wrote a confidential letter last year to the Texas Medical Board, complaining about a doctor she thought practiced shoddy medicine, she assumed it would be anonymous.

Instead, Dr. Rolando Arafiles Jr. fired her after reporting her to the local sheriff — a former patient and admirer of the doctor — for maliciously ruining his reputation.

Police in Kermit, Texas, searched Mitchell’s computer and found the letter, then charged her with “misuse of official information” in her role at Winkler Memorial Hospital, a third-degree felony in Texas under an abuse-of-power statute.

Today, 52 and out of work, Mitchell could face 10 years in prison for doing what she believed was her obligation under the law — to report unsafe medical practices.

Arafiles had, among other things, sutured the rubber tip of a glove to a crushed finger in order to protect it, and performed a skin graft in the Emergency Department which subsequently (and unsurprisingly) failed. In that wasn’t enough, Arafiles was flogging his own herbal remedies, consisting of white grape juice, to his patients on the side while providing treatment.

The second day of the trial proper was yesterday, and was full of interesting information. According to a local account, it turns out the arresting sheriff, who was so full of love and admiration for the good doctor, was selling the herbal supplement on side. And, incredibly, the physician himself thinks diabetes has no impact on wound healing.

It’s an unfortunate confluence of corrupt local politics and hospital complicity — the administration where Arafiles worked was fully aware of his shortcomings and refused to act — in a toxic culture of entitlement, where if things go wrong, and accountability is demanded, you blame the nurse. In the end, you have to wonder who needs to be on trial.

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