Thursday, February 24, 2005

Schwarzenegger Fears A Nurse in Uniform

by Gregg Chadwick

The latest California actor turned governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has picked a battle that he can not win. Arnold is a cartoon warrior. His opponents up to now have been mainly celluloid villains and opinion poll watching politicos. What Arnold has found out in his rash decision to issue an emergency order rolling back nursing ratios in emergency rooms is that California's top nurses are tenacious and brilliant: "Arnold behaves like an arrogant patriarch with respect to women's occupations," said Rose Ann De Moro, executive director of the California Nurses Association. "Nurses, teachers, home health workers -- it's vulgar how he's run roughshod over them. He's arrogant, and he's a bully."

The AP reports how these events started "in December, when a small group of nurses gathered at a state women's conference to protest Schwarzenegger's decision to side with hospitals and limit the state's nurse-to-patient ratio. With his wife,Maria Shriver in the audience, Schwarzenegger responded to the protesters by saying, "The special interests don't like me in Sacramento because I am always kicking their butts." The nurses union denounced his comment, and the attacks on the governor have escalated since."

"The arrogance of taking on teachers, nurses and other professions where women are underpaid, overworked and vital to society is beyond the pale," said Jamie Court, president of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights."But Arnold is someone who treats women as objects, so it's natural for him to have a tendency to disregard and devalue professions that are made up of women."

Last week, critical care nurse Kelly DiGiacomo had a ticket to attend the Sacramento premiere of Governor Schwarzenegger's new film-Be Cool: Get Shorty II. While seated in the audience, in her nurses’ uniform, DiGiacomo was approached by an undercover officer who demanded to see her ticket and pulled her out of the audience. DiGiacomo was then detained in a small back room where she was interrogated for an hour by an undercover officer while other officers guarded her. She was then held for another 30 minutes before her release.

 “It’s appalling that the highest constitutional officer of our state feels a nurse’s uniform is threatening, and is unwilling to allow a working nurse to attend a public event,” said CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro.

“RNs have a right and a very good reason to protest the governor’s rollback of patient care protections to please his corporate healthcare donors. His attempt to suspend First Amendment rights for RNs because they advocate for patients, not for corporate interests, is deplorable,” DeMoro said. DeMoro also blasted the governor for “a disgraceful waste of public money to fund his private security detail to harass nurses.”

Arnold's emergency order, made at the request of the California Healthcare Association (the lobbying arm of the hospital industry), puts tens of thousands of Californians at risk for mortality, medical errors, and infections. The California Nurses Association has called on Arnold to:

1. Maintain the 1:4 minimum ratio in the Emergency Room at all times.
2. Implement the 1:5 ratio in Medical–Surgical Departments.

also see schwarzenegger vs. nurses:


  • The California Nurses Association has suggested to call and e-mail the Governor's office: Call 916-445-2841, extension 7 during business hours and leave a message saying:"I am offended by your remarks about nurses and I oppose your attack on the safe staffing ratio law.”
    E-mail the governor at and cc CNA at

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