I am the San Francisco registered nurse who filed a complaint about the retaliation I experienced after protesting the addition of Mark Zuckerberg’s name to San Francisco General Hospital (“Nurse who opposed naming hospital after Facebook founder says he faces retaliation” SF Examiner Jan. 8).
At the time, I was an inpatient at another hospital so I had a lot of time to think (and worry). There’s nothing like getting hospitalized to make a nurse appreciate excellent nursing care. It’s a different perspective to be looking up from the gurney instead of leaning over it.
Knowing that I was receiving care from union hospital staff was very reassuring. Thanks to strong healthcare unions, San Francisco nurses have some of the best pay and benefits in the world. In addition, I knew that nursing care was improving nationwide in part thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare. It was also thanks in part to Obamacare that I was able to help create a patient falls prevention program for San Francisco General Hospital so I promised myself and the nurses to “call not fall”.
The other part of being a whistle-blower in the hospital is the tension between privacy and self-expression. The omnipresence of cell phone cameras means that both hospital staff and patients could inadvertently reveal protected information. Even accidentally allowing identifiable information can lead to fines for hospitals and discipline for hospital staff. As a whistle-blower, I wanted to share my story so I was happy to be interviewed before being discharged. That was not allowed by hospital administration. I was also happy to speak with a dietary staff member who is a member of my union. She agreed that San Francisco General Hospital is the people’s hospital and should not have Mark Zuckerberg’s name on it. When I asked her to be in a photo with me she declined because she feared she may be punished. Instead, she gave me her Service Employees International Union lanyard.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s Facebook is one of the reasons why people are more fearful, even of their healthcare providers, than ever before. Facebook performed a human experiment on nearly 700,000 research subjects without their knowledge or consent in 2012. The results, published by the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrated that emotions could be spread remotely. The resulting Facebook contagion has been used to promote Russian and American election meddling as well as ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. I began the protest against Mr. Zuckerberg’s name on San Francisco General Hospital because I feared that would make our patients a target for future unethical research. In fact, Facebook was planning to seek patient information from major American hospitals for research as late as 2018. According to a CNBC report, Facebook hired physicians and there would be an attempt to link the hospital data with Facebook accounts. In both studies, there was no regard for research participant safety or even asking for consent.
I am very satisfied with the care that I received and I am very proud to be a nurse at San Francisco General Hospital. Advocating for patients and defending their right to privacy is something taught to all nurses. Hospitals both publicly and privately funded need to stand up for ethical care. After all, as a resident of San Francisco Mr. Zuckerberg can count on receiving excellent care if he needs it at the people’s hospital: San Francisco General Hospital.
Sasha Cuttler is a nurse at San Francisco General Hospital and an activist with Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and representative to the Nurse Alliance of California