Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 27, 1999
WCR Letters to the Editor
How to handle hospital 'snags'
Re: "Student nurse runs into a snag" (Letters, WCR, Dec. 13).
About 35 years ago, I trained to become a nurse under the Sisters of St. Martha at St. Michael's in Lethbridge. I have worked in my profession for most of that time and am now working in private community home care. This is probably the final chapter in my professional nursing career before I consider retirement.
One thing I remember vividly as we studied our morals and ethics was the importance of identifying our own values and grasping them into the framework of our individual lives.
Nurses must be knowledgeable and able to assist their patients to get all the information that they might need to make an informed consent.
It is not the right of anyone to decide for any other person what that decision should be. Each person has the right to complete information before making a choice that works for them.
Persons who show poor values have often been misled and need information. They cannot be forced to change and will not until they are ready. To assign right or wrong or good or bad to other people's actions or values is not ever OK. To extend information that allows thought and self-evaluation is appropriate.
About two years after I graduated from nursing, I was working on an Obs/Gynec Unit. I found myself in an overwhelming position one day when I arrived at work. I was assigned to a patient who clearly was being prepared to go to the O.R. for an abortion.
Abortions were not allowed in the hospitals at that time, so nothing was said, but the story was clear. The abortion was being done illegally. If you knew the right people, abortions could and did happen.
I was a fairly new nurse on the unit at the time and I was scared. I went to the head nurse who informed me that I "had been assigned to the patient and that I would have to look after her needs including the pre-op sedation."
I was torn and upset and decided to make a visit to the director of nursing. This did not make me popular and I was worried that I would lose my job. I was my own breadwinner at that time.
The director of nursing listened to me and said she could not change the head nurse assignment but that she would at least discuss it with her. I returned to the unit, picked up my coat and purse, and walked out of the unit.
As I was leaving the building (thinking I now had no job), I was met at the door by the director of nursing who agreed to let me transfer to another unit. I started back the next day to work on a pediatric unit.
I received many calls from co-workers that evening saying that they were really glad I spoken up and held my ground because they felt the same way. They were too afraid to speak up.
The abortion was done but I did not contribute, and I did manage to expose the illegal process that was happening on that unit. Changes followed rapidly following this exposure. I will not go into details.
We were required to teach birth control etc., to our patients as well. I had no difficulty with this as it was information only given to them and the decisions that they made were theirs based on what they believed and wished to do. Natural family planning was definitely included in our education sessions.
You will many times run into these conflicts between your own personal values and the values of others. It is important to remember that sharing information is just that - the decision that a person makes is that person's decision. You can be involved in teaching the dangers and also ensure that the teaching is more complete, by including natural family planning.
Think of how you could make the teaching program more complete - rather than refusing to teach it because you do not personally believe in it.
You will have many opportunities in nursing to stand up for your own values.
No one but you can resolve this dilemma or "snag" as you call it. See it as a gift to you and an opportunity to grow with this experience. Believe me it will not be the last time.
To be different takes much more courage and risk than to remain mainstream and do everything that everyone else does. Indeed taking risks is the only way to make change.
Signs of hope burst forth
The most recent article by Hank Zyp (Dec. 13) suggests that the Catholic version of Christianity is ending the millennium with a whimper, rather than with a bang.
Actually it has been quite awhile since any century was greatly influenced by the Gospel as a word lived by a Church passionate about the reign of God.
Since the control imposed on the Church by Constantine in 313, the civil function of the Church as spiritual glue holding together a divergent empire has been the major purpose of the hierarchy and clergy.
What Zyp does not celebrate with enough passion is that in the 20th century there have been significant moments of rupture in the official agenda - signs that sometimes the Spirit of God can and does break through.
A pope elected to be a caretaker - to fill the chair of Peter but expected to do no more - was in fact the one who has done the most in many centuries.
The significance of the Conferences of Medellin and Puebla, while diminished by the constant pressure from Rome and the appointment of Ratzinger clones throughout the Americas, will continue to serve as beacons of a Church striving to be faithful to the Jesus who is incarnated in the suffering of the poor.
The saintly martyrs such as Oscar Romero can be replaced with military puppets from the Opus Dei clan, but their testimony will strengthen and guide many more in the next century.
The 20th century has produced a legion of martyrs, many during the brutal reign of the Nazi horror in Europe.
In all regions of the world, there have been surges of divine waters bursting forth like fountains of new life.
The Spirit of God has been calling humanity to a new consciousness, and like the prophet Jeremiah who was a reluctant messenger, God today calls on the most unusual assortment of witnesses - a Hindu called Gandhi, a Buddhist called the Dalai Lama, a Catholic nun called Mother Teresa, a scientist called Suzuki, and sometimes even bishops like Dom Helder Camara.
The Spirit blows where it wills, and who knows who will answer. But the reality is that the voice of God is speaking louder and clearer, and that the breakthroughs are happening with greater frequency.
That is why the opposition - from the world and from the official churches - is even stronger. When the Son of Man himself broke through, it took all the forces of the world and religion to rally to do him in, but the folly of the cross proved even stronger and more durable than even the power of the empire.
Be not afraid - in the short run don't expect a lot, but in the big picture the 20th century did produce enough fountains of fresh water that a paradigm shift has begun to take place. And it has been our privilege to have been a part of it.
Stats downplay farmers' plight
In the Dec. 6 WCR you had an article on farmer's income ("Farmers survive on off-farm income").
In your article it is shown that the author received most of their information from supply management marketing boards. These supply management sectors have a guaranteed return for their products, and are protected from foreign access to their markets by high tariffs.
Other sectors of agriculture have to compete on the free market, or are forced by law to deal with a single marketing board whose only mandate is to keep grain and food prices low for the rest of the population.
It is true that most farm income has to come from off-farm work. Why is this off-farm income classified as farm income?
This gives the wrong view of the real crisis facing the agricultural producer. No other area of our workforce has their income added together for statistics. Do teachers who have a second job have this income classified as teaching income?
The average income for a farm family being 17 per cent higher than the average Canadian family is only representative of gross pay.
Agricultural producers also pay taxes, and the net pay for most of us is well below the poverty level as the cost of production is higher than our returns. How many other Canadians families have to invest that high a percentage of their income to try and make a living?
This statistic also includes the so-called hobby farmer? These hobby farmers are able to classify themselves as farmers, yet do not need the farm to try and make a living, yet only use as tax deduction since very few segments of agriculture actually show a profit.
So the next time you print an article, perhaps you had better dig a little deeper into the statistics you use, and talk to those of us whose actual living is dependent on agriculture.
Silence in the face of the evil of abortion
Ever wonder what the average German-on-the-street was doing when the Holocaust was going on in Germany during the Second World War, when millions of Jews, Poles, gypsies and others were cruelly murdered by the Nazis?
Ever ask, "Why didn't they do something to stop the murder of these innocent people?"
I can't help drawing an analogy between that Holocaust and the one we have going on here in Alberta, in Canada and all over the world. The same thing is happening today in Alberta as happened in Germany in WWII - the Catholic bishops and priests are inexplicably silent, ignoring the plight of thousands of unborn Albertans as these unborn people are cruelly murdered in their mother's wombs.
Oh, once-in-a-while, a priest mentions from the pulpit that abortion is wrong, as well as several other evils but for the most part, the vast majority of bishops and priests are silent.
The question becomes: "What are they afraid of - doing their duty? Why are they so silent in the face of such an obvious evil?"
Letter didn't reflect man's views
It seems that too many of our friends and acquaintances have not seen the apology which appeared in the Dec. 6 WCR - an apology directed to Leo Aquin to whom the article "Priests, nuns should respect their dress code" was attributed.
I wish to reiterate that my brother did not write that article.
What kind of person would choose to hide behind someone else's name to publish such antiquated views as to how priests and nuns should live their lives?
Incidentally, my sister-in-law (Leo's wife) has two sisters who are members of a religious order. Needless to say, this article has caused them a great deal of grief and pain. My brother has always had a lot of respect and admiration for priests and nuns.
In order to avoid hurting innocent people again in the future, it would be wise for you to verify the author of such articles more closely. Thank you.