RNs have difficult jobs and have nowhere to turn initially if they face addiction.
‘WHEN NURSES FAIL’
Star Tribune series may lead to distrust
My name is Anna, and I am an RN in the emergency department at Hennepin County Medical Center.
I first read the article “Addicted nurses keep licenses” (Nov. 2) in our breakroom last Sunday. I thought about it all night. I first asked myself if my attitude toward nursing was idealistic rather than realistic. I told myself that it is important for all professions to be transparent about their weaknesses. But still, I felt deflated.
Every day that I work, I have to remind myself to maintain a good attitude and keep going. I’ve even had to write “Keep your moral compass” on my left forearm in Sharpie so that I can remain centered as I take care of the sick, the intoxicated, the prisoner, and the suicidal. I’ve frequently been cursed as patients try to spit on or bite me. Or, on the opposite spectrum, you may find me crying along with my patient and their family after they have been delivered terrible news of a terminal condition.
I find myself saddened as I acknowledge the misunderstandings that I will have to deal with in the future. The premise of the Star Tribune series “When nurses fail” makes for great stories, but you and I both know the effect front-page articles like this have on people’s subconscious: distrust. What if that crucial first eye contact changes from vulnerable trust to suspicion?
This is a favorite moment: When someone is scared on arrival, maybe bleeding, maybe in a neck brace, and I can look them in the eye and say, “Hi. I’m Anna, your nurse. You’re going to be OK.”
ANNA DYKHUIS, Minneapolis
• • •
It is easy to use scare tactics and worst-case scenarios to try to unduly influence people on what is actually a very complicated topic. (I am an attorney who is quite familiar with the nursing cases. From 1993 to 2000, I was an assistant attorney general working with the Board of Nursing, and now in private practice I proudly represent nurses and other health care professionals.)
Like every human being, health care professionals experience challenges and struggles. What matters is how they respond.
Of course, no one disputes that the public needs to be protected from unsafe practitioners. But chemical dependency is a disease, and many nurses have been able to implement a strong and successful recovery program that allows them to return to a safe practice after active chemical dependency.
MICHAEL J. WEBER, Minneapolis
• • •
One thing that continues to be left out of the coverage is that nurses initially have nowhere to go for help.
I went to my doctor, counselor and more with my concern that I was becoming addicted to narcotics. Each one of them was licensed by a board and was under oath to report me to my board. If they gave me advice or even listened and didn’t report me, they risked their own licenses. Not having a resource was the main reason I spiraled into severe addiction. How to help nurses before it affects the public would be a great direction to focus on.
Another key question is why addiction for RNs is on the rise. Workload? Pay? Stress? Lack of connection to the doctors for help? Acuity of patient? There is something wrong, but there is a bigger picture than what the Star Tribune is writing about.
MARIE MECHLEY, Minneapolis
State efforts should be airtight on every front
Thomas Duvall, a rapist who has attacked 60 women and logged fantasies while in therapy of his desire to sexually attack juveniles, is being held indefinitely in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (“Officials war over rapist’s release,” Nov. 3). Gov. Mark Dayton, while indicating that he sympathizes with the public, asked, “[A]re we ever going to take responsibility for this backdoor, indiscriminate way of leaving these people warehoused forever?”
In the same issue, an editorial discussed the fact that the Twin Cities are one of the nation’s hubs for child prostitution and sex trafficking. The Editorial Board called for all of Minnesota’s political delegation to join U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen in support of a federal statute to strengthen the law enforcement information database on missing children and children at risk. It also praised U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar for her efforts to ensure that “johns” who purchase sex acts are targeted as traffickers also.
How is it that Minnesota politicians can push for spending federal money to reduce the sexual abuse of children and sex trafficking at the federal level while at the same time the governor accepts his human-services commissioner’s judgment on the release of a horrendous sex offender from custody?
JOHN CLAUER, Park Rapids, Minn.
Minnesota DNR has been rendered useless
As someone with more than 30 years experience in resource protection with local government in Minnesota, I can concur with Dennis Anderson’s Oct. 27 column article “Lost in the Moment,” which argues that it’s time to rethink the state’s approach to conservation. It is a tragedy that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has been denigrated and nearly destroyed by the Legislature over the past 20 years. This is highlighted by the Nov. 2 article “Second time may be the charm for river rules.”
The primary reason the Mississippi River needs protection in the metro corridor is that counties, cities and townships have made a mess of it and show no inclination nor desire to protect it except for development and tax base. Rather than standing up for the resource, DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr has decided to punt and let these same units that made the mess control the rulemaking process. Why bother? As pointed out in the same article, the Legislature has already effectively removed any enforcement power from the DNR.
Look at the St. Croix: If you have enough money, you can get a variance to do whatever you want, and if you have enough real-estate developers behind you, you can even get a federal exception to build a bridge.
Let me know how I can help, Dennis.
TOM SALKOWSKI, Buffalo, Minn.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.