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Local Book Notes: Secret Hospital Rooms Of The 1%

"Welcome to the land of health care's 1 percent. During the four years I spent interviewing and following nurses for my book, I was continually astonished by the red carpet some hospitals rolled out for certain classes of patients," Alexandra Robbins writes for Politico

"A Virginia nurse explained that this is why Washington might not understand health care. He said, 'Politicians have such a warped sense of how the health care system works because they never have to be part of the actual system.'

"Politicians and other VIPs, it turns out, can get special access to critical care. Hospitals across the Washington area - and, indeed, across the country - have exclusive rooms and sometimes even separate floors for treating the rich and famous."

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This story is ripe for localizing.

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"Many hospitals treat VIPs better than the average patient, saving deluxe private rooms for the celebrities, politicians and officials who know about them. While some luxury rooms are available to any patient who can pay for them, others are kept secret."

A Washington, D.C., hospital has a VIP unit devoted to patients such as visiting foreign dignitaries, senators and professional football players. "It doesn't have typical hospital furnishings - the rooms are much bigger, with fancy bedspreads, decorative pillows and lavish curtains," said a Maryland nurse who used to work at the hospital. "The patients are served excellent food - much better than the food on the regular floors - and they are given anything they request; the nurses cater to their every whim. It's a restricted floor, with no access from the regular elevators. Most people don't even know this floor exists."

Across the country, nurses described VIP accommodations that look more like spacious luxury hotel suites than hospital rooms, with kitchenettes, beautifully glass-tiled bathrooms and other amenities. In one Washington State hospital, when a VIP comes in, the staff combines two rooms to make a large one. They are instructed to bring in a large-screen TV and the "VIP furniture." After the VIP is discharged, a nurse there said, the furniture is removed and stored until the next VIP admission. "They do this for rich and influential people and we nurses are disgusted by it. Nurses are taught to treat each patient as an important person and to give our best care to each one of those patients," she said.

VIP care becomes problematic when those patients unnecessarily take up resources that more critical patients need. "Sometimes they will get a one-on-one nurse or we are all told to give them extra special treatment," said a New Jersey nurse. "I have seen critical patients who should be next to the nursing station moved so that a relation of a board member, a big donor, or celebrity could have the better room even if their condition didn't warrant that level of observation. At another local hospital they had an entire VIP section set aside; those rooms were not to be used for the riffraff."

"Every hospital at which the Virginia nurse has worked had "a couple of rooms, if not a floor, dedicated to VIPs, which is often hidden. At one hospital, there was a room specifically maintained only for the use of a very famous person with a very crappy heart. They'll get the best food, the nicest rooms, the most accommodating physicians and the nurses who are easiest to push over. The hospital left the VIP section completely empty unless a VIP was present. No intermingling."

Inner Landscape Queens
"In this month's Palabra Pura, celebrated and award winning author Ana Castillo curates an interdisciplinary evening of visual art, hip hop, and poetry," the Guild Literary Complex says.

Poet and painter Arica Hilton, former president of the Poetry Center of Chicago, and hip-hop artist Lah Tere, known for her music and social activism, join Castillo in readings and wide- ranging poetic expression.

Inner Landscape will take place at a special location - the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center at 4048 West Armitage Avenue - from 7:30 to 9 p.m., on Wednesday. and is open to the public ($5 suggested donation).

An open mic will precede the main readings. Beverages will be available for a donation.

Both Hilton and Tere are known for work that encompasses a variety of different forms.

Hilton, a native of Turkey, is a current co-owner of the Hilton/Asmus Contemporary Gallery. Hilton champions art in which "one form of art media melds into another," and she will present both visual art and poetry during the program.

Tere is a former member of rap group Rebel Diaz, and a co-founder of Momma's Hip Hop Kitchen: The Soup Kitchen for the Hip Hop Soul. She is also the founder of the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, an arts and community center in the South Bronx. Lah Tere will rap and perform spoken word.

"The evening's coordinator, acclaimed writer Ana Castillo, has held numerous teaching positions at universities throughout the United States, and has published a wide variety of material in many different venues, including Salon, Oxygen, and The New York Times. Her novel Sapogonia was selected by the Times as a 'Notable Book of the Year,' and The Huffington Post has called her "one of the first generation of highly visible Chicana writers." As Castillo told the Post, 'They describe us as 'Chicana writers, in search of their identities.' We're not looking for identities - we have this identity.'"

Lincoln Was A Dick About Slavery
From the SIU Press:

In this succinct study, Edna Greene Medford examines the ideas and events that shaped President Lincoln's responses to slavery, following the arc of his ideological development from the beginning of the Civil War, when he aimed to pursue a course of noninterference, to his championing of slavery's destruction before the conflict ended. Throughout, Medford juxtaposes the president's motivations for advocating freedom with the aspirations of African Americans themselves, restoring African Americans to the center of the story about the struggle for their own liberation.

"Lincoln and African Americans, Medford argues, approached emancipation differently, with the president moving cautiously to save the Union while the enslaved and their supporters pressed more urgently for an end to slavery. Despite the differences, an undeclared partnership existed between the president and slaves that led to both preservation of the Union and freedom for those in bondage. Both enslaved and free black people were fervent participants in the emancipation effort, showing an eagerness to get on with the business of freedom long before the president or the North did.

By including African American voices in the emancipation narrative, this insightful volume offers a fresh and welcome perspective on Lincoln's America.

"Edna Greene Medford is a professor of history and the department chair at Howard University. She is a co-author, with Frank J. Williams and Harold Holzer, of The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views.

"She served as director for History of New York's African Burial Ground Project and edited Historical Perspectives of the African Burial Ground: New York Blacks and the Diaspora."

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on May 18, 2015


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - An Odd Call From Bermuda.
SPORTS - All Is Not Forgiven, Bears.

BOOKS - Turning Points Of The Civil War.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Baxter's IV Bag Shortages.


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