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Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 03:27 pm

Letters to the Editor 8/1/13


A rendering of Memorial Medical Center’s new surgical wing and patient tower that will overlook Miller Street.

Although I found your article to be “enlightening” (“Building bigger, better hospitals,” Patrick Yeagle, July 18), I am compelled to propose a counterpoint. While you have had discussions with hospital staff about the current reconstruction of the hospitals, I would like to point out what some Springfield people fear most from the coming changes. From what people have told me, visualize the following as the possible end product of all this construction.

Picture if you will, a building where each facade stretches as much as 10 blocks in any direction.

Picture if you will, a building so immense that most of downtown’s city streets would pass under the building at street level. (No more need for snowplows come winter, especially for the near north-side since all city streets will travel beneath the hospital complex in tunnels, which could be as little as 20-feet high or perhaps 100-feet high.

Picture if you will, even the Third Street rails travelling under a 50-foot tall “roof,” which will be the floor of one of the sections of the hospital.

Picture if you will, a building so tall, wide and massive that it becomes a landmark, possibly to be viewed from as far away as St. Louis.

Picture if you will, a building so massive that its anti-aircraft collision lights are backed up by powerful searchlight beams at various levels to make the building more easily viewable to passing aircraft.

Picture if you will, a building so immense that to move patients and visitors around they must install shuttle/tube cars.

Picture if you will, a building so immense that it would contain not only all the requirements for a major medical complex, but also a fully stocked shopping mall and restaurants, as well as fitness and other activities.

Imagine your worst science fiction nightmare, and this is what many people I have spoken with think that the new medical complex will eventually evolve into.

A monster so huge and so complex that we have little doubt that Springfield, Ill. will acquire a new “nickname.” Gone will be Land of Lincoln, replaced with Terminatorville.

Perhaps my sources are wrong and the expansions will be a boon to the area, but there is concern in the community. Concern that eventually this 1,000-story-tall behemoth will seem to stare down on Sangamon County homes.

Norman Hinderliter

Nurses are the fundamental backbone of our current health care system, yet our legal system does not protect them against violence as it does other professions. There is significant evidence that nurses are often in the cross hairs of violent offenders. There have been a number of cases over the years where nurses have suffered near-fatal injuries at the hands of patients.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2004, 46 percent of nonfatal assaults and violent acts against health care practitioners that involved days off of work were committed against registered nurses.

Despite this, Illinois law does not protect nurses in the same manner as other professions. Any battery against police officers, emergency medical technicians and school employees is a felony. However, under current law, a battery against a nurse has a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $2500 fine, while the maximum penalty for battering many other public employees is five years in a state correctional center and a $25,000 fine.

The Illinois Nurses Association set about to correct this disparity. Over the course of a year, we met with legislators, wrote testimony, appeared in public and advocated for a change in the law. Out of this effort, HB801, The Nurse Protection Bill, was born.

Nurses deserve to be supported and empowered, not sabotaged through outdated attitudes and weak laws. HB 801 increases the penalty for battery against a nurse to the same level as the penalties and fines against other professions, recognizing the importance of the nursing profession as a whole. By showing that violence against a nurse is a serious crime, HB 801 is an important step in decreasing violence against nurses and creating a safer and more effective health care system.

After months of hard work, the Illinois Nurses Association was able to successfully lobby to get HB 801 through both the Illinois House and Illinois Senate and we are pleased to announce that it is on Gov. Quinn’s desk for signature. We urge the governor to sign this bill and send a message to nurses, patients and citizens that violence against nurses is no longer tolerated.

Alice J. Johnson, executive director
Illinois Nurses Association

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