I had an interesting day at the hospital today. My patient was very sweet, and kept me busy for the whole shift, which I love., but things got a little weird in post-conference. I don’t even remember how it came up, but we somehow started talking about caring for prisoners and addicts, and whether they deserve nursing care. Crazy, right? Because even prisoners and addicts are people, and so of course they deserve compassionate care- the same care we would give anyone else. Except that wasn’t what people were saying. Instead, I was treated to hearing about stitching up people who hurt themselves on purpose to get drugs without using any anesthetic, and wishful thinking that you could just turn people away. Even the people who were hesitant to jump on board with that kind of statement admitted that they would want to look at a person’s history before deciding what kind of care they should receive. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here! Since when do nurses say that kind of thing?! It is so not a nurse’s job to judge or punish their patients! I couldn’t believe that people would say those thoughts aloud, even if they had them- I assumed that it was understood that those types of bias are bad, and should be kept hidden in the same parts of your secret mind that think about keying people’s cars. There are so many layers of bad in those sentiments, but once you unpack them there are even more that might not immediately show up, like the fact that the judicial system is so broken, and people from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to be incarcerated (and how about racial inequalities? We don’t even need to go near that can of worms). It also reminded me of the attitude that many people hold towards obese people, thinking that because “they did it to themselves” they’re less deserving of good healthcare. The whole thing makes me nuts. It isn’t easy, and I’m sure I’ll regret it sometimes, and wish it wasn’t the case, but everyone is entitled to good care. I don’t care if they’re racist, male, female, gay, straight, trans, wealthy, poor, young, old, even if they’ve personally treated me like dirt and made me cry- they can be anyone- it shouldn’t matter, because nurses aren’t supposed to care about anything but their patients’ well- being. There aren’t a lot of black and white situations, especially in healthcare, but this is one of them. I’m honestly disgusted by the things I heard today- I had thought better of Hopkins nurses.
(What really killed me though, was that one of the students who has such an issue with treating prisoners is in the fracking prison public health rotation! The very same one that I (and lots of other people) really really wanted! Good thing she thinks those people are deserving of quality care!)