Ron Phelps wants to amass 1 million fellow nurses in Washington, D.C., next fall for a march that would bring attention to the challenging working conditions that he says are chasing nurses and potential nurses away from the profession. But so far the rallies coordinated by the Million Nurse March organization, of which Levy serves as executive director, are drawing dozens rather than thousands.
A march in Cleveland in July had about 50 participants. About the same number participated in a rally on Sept. 6 in Roanoke, Va., near Phelps' home of Lynchburg, where he is a registered nurse at a skilled-care facility.
"I just got a feeling that this is a good thing," Phelps says of the grass-roots movement that is coordinated with the help of several Web sites (including www.millionnursemarch.org).
He and Louise Garcia, another registered nurse who is the organization's media coordinator, want to enlist the support of national nurse organizations, such as the American Nurses Association, to bring up their numbers. But they see themselves as "mavericks" who need to shake up the establishment a bit.
"The problem is that nurses do not support other nurses; this is why nurses are leaving the profession and why they don't recommend it to young people," Phelps says.
So far, Phelps and Garcia say the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses is the only group that has given the Million Nurse March its verbal endorsement.
The ANA is in no hurry to throw its weight behind the fledgling effort. "We are supportive of the concept of a million nurse march; we are just waiting to see how it progresses," says ANA spokeswoman Cindy Price.
The Condit conduit. It had to come to this: Outliers has made a key connection between the healthcare industry and Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.), embattled over the disappearance of federal government intern Chandra Levy.
Condit's sometime-publicist Marina Ein, a well-known Washington public-relations maestro whose specialty is damage control, has been working as an adviser for the Catholic Health Association, beginning well before her spotlight role with Condit. Among other areas, her work for the CHA has focused on Catholic hospitals' policies on reproductive services.
"We used her as a sounding board," CHA spokesman Fred Caesar says. He adds: "She doesn't mix clients."
Ein's firm, Ein Communications, has two divisions. Her corporate consulting business includes a number of healthcare clients, she says. Her crisis consulting business is entirely separate.
A sense of calm. Caregivers in Copenhagen, Denmark, have found that pornography and prostitutes promote tranquility in elderly patients more effectively than traditional medical treatment such as drug therapy.
Staff at the Thorupgaarden nursing home in the capital city have broadcast pornography on the building's internal video channel once a week for several years, according to an article in Toronto newspaper the Globe and Mail.
And if videos and dirty magazines don't help relieve tension, residents can ask the staff to order a prostitute for them. Arranging for a prostitute is legal in Denmark, and in fact the Danish government earlier this year released a report stating that sexuality is an integral part of seniors' life and recommended that caregivers help elderly residents satisfy their sexual needs.
The caregivers told Danish media that pornography is healthier, cheaper and easier to use than medicine, according to the article.
The issue of sex and seniors is often overlooked at nursing homes, says Maj-Britt Auning, a department head at the 115-resident Thorupgaarden facility. Yet both men and women watch the sexually explicit videos, she says, and two residents regularly use prostitutes. Says Auning, "It's time that we show the elderly some respect and take their needs seriously, including the sexual ones."
On this side of the ocean, caregivers say senior sexuality often goes unaddressed because of a concern for privacy. Nancy Klossner, administrative director of care at Castleview Care Center in Castlegar, British Columbia, says residents often are quite capable of having relationships without the help of staff.
Generous to a fault. A man accused of stealing millions of dollars in a McDonald's contest scheme, marketing executive Jerome "Jerry" Jacobson, apparently gave a $1 million "Instant Winner" game piece to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn., in 1995, according to CNN and the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch. The hospital received the game piece in a plain envelope with a Dallas postmark and no return address, a hospital spokesman said.
McDonald's waived contest rules that required such pieces to be redeemed only by winners and agreed to pay St. Jude $50,000 a year for 20 years. McDonald's spokesman Walt Riker said the company stands by its gift and has no plans to stop the payments.
Jacobson, 58, director of security for Los Angeles-based Simon Marketing, was among 21 people indicted Sept. 10 for allegedly embezzling more than $20 million worth of winning McDonald's game pieces from Simon Marketing, which had been contracted by McDonald's to run its Monopoly games.