Letters to the Editor – October 2008

Novice nurses: Leading the way against nurse abuse 
In the informative and timely article “No more nurse abuse” (July), John Murray points out that novice nurses are more likely to report abuse or harassment to a supervisor than experienced nurses, who seem to think abusive behavior is unavoidable. As a nurse educator, I believe we must instill the value of mutual respect in students from the start of their nursing education. Perhaps novice nurses can help transform abusive environments by serving as role models for their more seasoned colleagues. After reading this article, I intend to stress to my students that they can play a pivotal role in creating and maintaining positive work environments.
Anne Durkin, PhD, RN
Rocky Hill, CT

Is the senior care “crisis” old news?   
I felt compelled to write this letter after reading Pamela Cipriano’s August editorial “Senior care: Are we prepared for the impending healthcare crisis?” Impending? The senior healthcare “crisis” has been around for decades. As a nurse for more than 30 years, I’m baffled as to why nursing leaders are still making calls to action on a topic that was headline news 3 decades ago. No wonder we don’t have a firm entry-into-practice requirement or that some of us are still writing articles about the nurse’s handmaiden image. It’s time for us to move forward and for national nursing leadership to take a stand and show resolve in supporting the profession. Why not tackle big issues, such as the shoddy way boards of nursing treatment programs deal with addicted nurses, or the reasons why nurses frequently “eat their young”? I’ve been elected to numerous national leadership positions and sat on countless committees and task forces—and I see the same old issues being raised, with no solutions proposed. It’s time to stop talking to ourselves and do what nurses do best—change things.
Richard S. Ferri, PhD, ANP, ACRN, FAAN
Brewster, MA

Dr. Cipriano’s response: Given the findings of the Institute of Medicine report “Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce,” I believe the country will face a crisis caring for seniors. The nursing profession has been taking action by preparing more and more individuals at varying levels of expertise to care for the elderly, but even those numbers won’t be sufficient to meet the predicted need. Change is required throughout our social and healthcare systems. Nurses alone won’t be able to fill all the gaps in senior care. With health care taking a top spot in the current political agenda, nurses will have many opportunities to take Dr. Ferri’s advice to create change and tackle tough issues.

Looking for Mary Jo   
I recently read the online version of your November 2006 article “Reflections on nursing in Vietnam,” which recounted the military nursing experience of Mary Jo Rice-Mahoney. Ms. Mahoney, now a retired colonel, was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army who worked at the 67th Evacuation Hospital in Qui Nhon, South Vietnam, in 1969. I believe she cared for me there in November 1969. I had taken a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade on a mine-sweep ambush. I suffered a head injury with extensive loss of skull, upper mouth, and right hand, and I lost the use of my left hand. Although I don’t remember much of that time, I do recall receiving care from a young lieutenant nurse whose nametag read “Rice.” I’ll never forget what she did for me at a time when nearly everyone else wrote me off for dead. If this is the same Lt. Rice, I would like to thank her for her kindness and caring, which brought me through. If not for her and the Qui Nhon medical team, I wouldn’t be here today.
I was in Walter Reed Hospital for almost 2 years; the medical staff told my family they don’t know how I survived my injuries. I was medically retired with 100% disability. Since then, I’ve gotten a degree from Cleveland State University and worked in medical engineering. My wife and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary this December, and together we’ve raised two sons.
I live a fairly normal life. I hope Mary Jo Rice-Mahoney has been able to live a normal life, too, considering all the horror she lived through as an Army nurse in Vietnam. Wherever you are, Mary Jo, thank you.
Henry (Hank) Vasil,
Sergeant (Ret.), U.S. Army
Brook Park, OH

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