Our health series is out and has taken on questions from health care reform to workers struggles for better conditions and a liberatory system of health. We interviewed a nurse active in the movement for safe staffing in the US, and a network of health workers in New Zealand about their organizing and recent strikes. During a month of struggles around gender, we published a translation of an article on health and gender by anarchist leader and medical student Melissa Sepúlveda Alvarado in Chile. In a field that has traditionally been defined by largely defensive struggle, we put forward strategy and an alternative vision that goes beyond universal public health systems within capitalism. The first came from the perspective of the United States by one our editors S Nicholas Nappalos, and the second by Pedro Heraklio is from Spain within the context of a threatened public system. This series unfortunately will be our last for the foreseeable future. The priorities and situations for our…Read More
What is the path from healthcare as we’ve known it to a society where everyone has the resources necessary for their full development? The mire of healthcare reform in the United States and the constant vigilance necessary to develop public health systems in other countries can obscure the need for a longer term strategy. Today we are sharing the translation of an article from Spain that describes how capitalism corrupts health care, and a strategy to move from our defensive stance today towards a decentralized collective system of healthcare owned and organized by workers and the community.
Labor movements have always tried to find ways to wrestle control over working conditions away from the boss. Workplace injuries and deaths are still at epidemic levels which in some industries in particular can mean life and death. Health care still suffers from disproportionately high levels of injury in in-patient settings such as hospitals, rehab centers, and nursing homes. Led by nurses, the movement for safe staffing has sought to create hard limits on the amount of patients that can be assigned to health providers for both the safety of the patients and their care givers. Following decades of militant action California nurses and nurses in provinces in Australia achieved safe staffing legislation which research has vindicated in improving care, reducing mortality, and avoiding provider burnout. We interviewed Jenny, a Maryland nurse involved in the movement to spread these measures about her experiences as a nurse and the movement.
Was there a moment or event at work convinced …Read More
Medicine is draped in the language of commerce and science that hide the social forces that sustain and shape health in society. Gender is particularly central both to the experience of health industries and in the sustenance and production of health. Our contribution today comes from Melissa Sepúlveda Alvarado, a Chilean medical student and anarchist organizer. Her argument shows not only how patriarchy shapes health, but also how medicine reproduces patriarchy itself.
Vicious Care – sketch by Monica Kostas
This week’s piece comes to us from fellow editor Scott Nappalos, a healthcare worker in Miami. He writes about the challenges of salvaging human interactions and compassion while working in a profiteering healthcare system that renders impotent patients and healthcare workers alike.
We Carry Our Failures:
Working With People in a Dehumanizing System
My patient would come back to the hospital just as soon as he left. We’ll call him Mr. Jones. His arm was mangled by a rare cancer that took his digit and much of his sensation and movement. He wore a hat over his thinning hair that read ‘Vietnam Veteran’. Rare cancer, God only knows what he was exposed to there. He took to me and would greet me and discuss his condition even when I wasn’t assigned to him, “it’s miserable” looking to his hand “living like this”.
Everyone took him to be a problem. They accused him of being a drug addict and using the hospital like a hotel for room and board, as he would sneak off the unit to smoke, talk to vets, buy junk food, and tool around outside in his wheelchair. Doctors would discharge him and he’d come right back. No one believed the stories he gave that were enough to get him readmitted, essentially living in the hospital for months despite discharges.
In this post we reprint an article which appeared in the Workers Power column of The Industrial Worker newspaper in February 2008
Workers have been organizing at a low income reproductive health clinic for the past few months.
It all began when the company, which was on solid footing, had gone on a hiring spree and improved a lot of working conditions. The federal government began requiring any recipient of aid (the majority of our patients) to prove citizenship. Undocumented workers don’t actually need to strangely, all they need is to indicate that they’re permanent residents. The net effect on the industry has been to cut 30% of the funding to all low-income clinics generally. That is the real target of this federal assault, to cut social funding under the guise of racially based nationalist sentiments.