Hightower, God bless the nurses

Nurses are fighting back against corporations — including religiously affiliated hospital chains — that profit from their low pay and severe understaffing. National Nurses United photo, taken on Mothers Day.


by Jim Hightower — OtherWords

Every religion prioritizes care for the needy. Christianity’s Benedictine Rule, for example, puts care of the sick atop the moral order — “above and before every other duty.”

Really? Even above the holy Wall Street mandate that medical and insurance conglomerates must squeeze every last penny of profits out of America’s corporate-care system? Well, there’s morality — and then there’s business.

Consider how today’s monopolized and financialized hospital networks treat nurses — the high-touch frontline people who do the most to put “care” in “health care.”

Often paid a pittance, thousands of nurses across America are now organizing and unionizing against the inequities of this system. The nurses’ core grievance, however, is not their pay, but the gross understaffing imposed on them and their patients by profiteering hospital chains.

In a national survey, more than half of nurses feel “used up” and “emotionally drained.” Why? Primarily because executives keep goosing up profits by eliminating care providers, making it impossible for the remaining, stretched-out staff to meet their own high moral standard of care.

That’s demoralizing for nurses — and deadly for patients.

Yet corporate care lobbyists loudly squawk that hospital chains can’t afford to pay fair wages and fully staff up. Ironically, one of the loudest squawkers is the hospital mega-chain Ascension, a Catholic Church offshoot proclaiming to be “rooted in the loving ministry of Jesus as healer.”

Some healer. In a devilish partnership with a Wall Street huckster, Ascension has been slashing nursing staffs while paying its CEO $13 million a year, hoarding $18 billion in cash, and allotting a pitiful 2 percent of its budget for charitable care of the poor.

To help battle health care greed, go to NationalNursesUnited.org.


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