My Open Letter To State Senator Maureen Walsh:

Dear State Senator Maureen Walsh,

Please allow me to explain to you, in the nicest way possible, how nurses do anything but, “play cards all day”. When I stumbled upon an article in the New York Times, that shared your ignorant and incorrect preconceived notion that nurses do such a thing, I was immediately prompted to share with you a list of just SOME of the things that nurses actually do.

I am not a nurse. But I am a retired advanced care paramedic who has had the privilege to work with many nurses over the duration of my eleven year career. In that time I have witnessed nurses perform the following tasks:

-triage patient after patient for hours without a break, while paramedics continuously roll stretchers with more patients into the hospital hall.

-hold a distraught mother’s hand while a baby gets a lumbar puncture to see if it has meningitis.

-know exactly where to get an IV on a patient with seconds to spare before the patient goes into cardiac arrest.

-deliver babies when the doctor is not available…many times.

-clean up vomit more times than I can count.

-perform ECG’s on heart attack patients while the family cries in the hallway.

-juggle multiple patients at once, with care and compassion, as hiring freezes occur and populations continue to increase.

-auscultate the lungs of a child with asthma who literally can barely breathe.

-hold the amputated limbs of a trauma patient.

-hug a father when he is told that his teenaged son has overdosed and died.

-calm a scared psychiatric patient when no one else could.

-be the doctor’s eyes and ears at all times.

-perfectly orchestrate an operating room filled with equipment and doctors while a patient gets a heart bypass.

-not have the opportunity to use the washroom when they have to…for a long time, if a trauma patient rolls in.

-explain to a family member what life support means, and watch the look of sadness on the family member’s face when they understand.

-give crayons to a young cancer patient who is waiting for chemo.

-hold the hand of an elderly woman with dementia who, “just wants to go home”, knowing full well that the woman’s home no longer exists.

-decontaminate patients exposed to toxic substances.

-take care of a police officer who was hurt while on duty.

-smile in the face of adversity…more times than I can ever count.

Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system, and do much more than “play cards all day”.

I’m sure you have received an overwhelming amount of angry letters from citizens who respect nurses and everything they stand for; and now you can add this one to your list.

Do yourself a favour, apologize, profusely, and often, because one day I am sure that you will need the care of a nurse just like most of society does, and when you do, I can guarantee you that there won’t be a deck of cards in site, and that you will be cared for with compassion and urgency; because THAT’S just what nurses do.


Natalie Harris

Barrie City Councillor – Ward 6