Nurse Shortage

This is regarding the article "Care Rationed at Overcrowded County-USC" (Part A, Dec. 16) and the denial of Third World conditions by Dr. Ronald L. Kaufman ("We don't have flies, we don't have cows walking through the place. It's extremely sanitary."). I beg to differ.

I worked as a critical care nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit from 1973 to 1986. No, we did not have cows, but we had plenty of flies and cockroaches. At one point the flies were so numerous we had a fly-swatting contest. The daily trash would pile up and overflow the trash cans. We would eventually place it in the hallway and hope the custodians would notice it and remove it. I have not worked at County-USC since 1990, but I am sure the conditions are the same.

Regarding the recent nurses' strike and the county's assertion that it is doing all it can to hire and recruit nurses, I returned to work May, 1989, and worked one weekend a month. In December, 1989, I received a letter stating that I would need to work a minimum of 96 hours every three months due to "an increased need for nurses in patient care areas." I was unable to work more than 24 hours a month due to personal family matters, and continued to work one weekend a month. In April, 1990, I received a letter "releasing" me of my duties as a temporary nurse.

If the county is able to get an injunction ordering its striking nurses back to work, doesn't it seem logical for the people of Los Angeles to get an injunction ordering the county to rehire those part-time nurses it terminated?

BARBARA SATO

South Pasadena

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