Nurses Recognition Awards: The Daisy Foundation

Went to a memorial for an old friend, Marilyn Lauer. She had a dry wit, liked a dry martini. Heart goes out to her husband Dave.

Her obit had mentioned donations to the Daisy Foundation. Looked it over online, it’s a family foundation for Patrick Barnes, who died of an autoimmune disease. The family was impressed by the skill of the nurses, but that they’d sort of expected. What moved them was the kindness, the respect and compassion the nurses showed the patient and his family. They wanted to recognize that. So they built a foundation and they provide a set of standards/awards for hospitals and health care sites. It’s mostly all paper, but it is recognition. Recognition helps nurses fight off burn-out. That’s a good thing.

I might be a trifle sensitive on the subject having recently been to the emergency room with my 100-year-old-mother and seen that care+kindness in operation, hour after hour.

So then I went to the memorial for Marilyn, where I met Mark Barnes, Patrick’s father, and Marilyn’s one-time brother-in-law. He is based in  Glen Ellen, Ca., site of of much of my book, Passage of the Kissing People.  Mark is very persuasive. We will be making a donation.
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Patients Tasered at Sonoma Developmental Center


Respect for the dignity and rights of people with disabilities is a battle that is never won “Once and for All.” It is only eternal vigilance that keeps the monsters at bay. Digby at Hullabaloo links to a story at California Watch about a staff member accused of using a Taser as a cattle prod on patients with disabilities at the Sonoma Developmental Center. In 1953 my parents worked at what was then called the Sonoma State Home for the Feebleminded. My sister and I had our day care with the wife of the head of security there, on the grounds. (The name has changed to Sonoma State Hospital and now to Sonoma Developmental Center, but it is still the same Institution.) Even then the place had a troubled past: the human eugenics experiments there in the 1930’s, a breakout of juvenile psychopaths that left a farmer dead and his wife hospitalized, chronic overcrowding/understaffing, the routine harvesting of deceased patient’s brains for study. Memories of that time have stayed with me for 60 years; I finally had to write a novel (Passage of the Kissing People) about them to gain closure. Staff then fought to change the State Home to a State Hospital to force increased medical treatment and an emphasis on moving patients back into the community. The forces of resistance rested in part on the fact that high-functioning patients were the captive work force to maintain the pig farm/dairy herd/chicken ranch/orchards/truck gardens/cannery/shoe factory and all the other pieces that made the Home its own city. Raising enough food to feed themselves and sell over $200,000 worth of food kept the costs down. To move those people back out into real life would raise costs, and so would additional staff and medications. Such concerns echo today as budget cuts have brought the Center to staff cut-backs and budget stress now. It is in conditions like these that patient safety is placed in the balance. Now with the value of the land so high, any excuse to shut down the facility would provoke intense pressure to sell. The fact that this problem arises every generation is not the reason to close down the facility. Its a reminder that we can’t take our eyes off the ball. Those who would shutter the Center have no plan to serve the patients they would turn out on the streets.

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Friday Night at Third Place Books

25 people came out on a Friday night at 6:30 to hear me read from Passage of the Kissing People. Third Place is a remarkable venue, lots of parking and the staff is super. Kudos to Wendy Manning and Steven, they had everything I needed for my presentation. But it’s a huge barn, with restaurants and a stage and bookstore all in one large former clothing store. Events happen all day and into the evening there, and they schedule tight. Scouting the place on a previous Friday we learned that the author slot is 6:30-7:30. At 7:30, over on the main stage, a rock band starts up. I reworked the show after the launch party, added some more historical shots, and cut the quiz presents from 5 to 3. And blessings upon Phoebe Kitanidis and Khoa Le. I had a dream of a video of my performance, but no camera and no experience. To have them give up part of a Friday night to help me was a major lift. Learned some things about setting up so I stay out of my own light. A good crowd with juicy questions that intrigued me, some who’d already read the book and came for answers. Q&A finished up at 7:20, we had some good blues backup while I signed. The kind of night that makes me feel like I have connected with my audience, I’ve given them something they will value.

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Family Reconnects After 61 Years

Nancy Bartley’s Article in the Seattle Times 4/29/12 (He’s a ‘nobody’ no longer) struck a chord. Though his commitment was in 1951, the same period when my parents were on the staff of the Sonoma State Home, so many of the details were familar.

Jerry Wooliver was a little boy in high-top baby shoes when he was taken from his mother and siblings and sent to a state institution. He never saw his family again, but for 61 years they lived on in hazy memories.

60 Minutes did a story in 2009 (A Dark Chapter in Medical History) about the commitment of Mark Dal Molin to the Sonoma State Hospital in 1961. So often these actions were taken for the best of intentions, but the toll on the families was harsh, and for some there was terrible guilt. Mr. Dal Molin felt his wife and daughters were being consumed by Mark’s care, but they were shocked by his action. The family split as a result. One of the most poignant things I saw there was a small carousel another family donated to the institution, with a brass plaque on the neck of the white horse reserving it for their son.

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