1.16.2012

A Plea for Progress

I'm tired and want to go to bed. But something kept nagging at me about my recent hospital stay. I tried to put it out of my mind, I'm just too tired to 'go there' right now. Then I was catching up on Google Reader before drifting off to sleep, and read this post on kidz with quotes from an honorable man and advocate. His call to always do what is right lifted me out of bed and encouraged me to write this letter to the administration of the hospital where I just stayed. Keep in mind that I very literally have decreased blood flow to my brain right now. I know many parts could have been worded better, but here it is in all its raw glory...

To Whom It May Concern:

I'd like to address a situation that arose multiple times during my recent 4-day stay at your facility. I hesitate to do this. I have many positive things to say and am happy to go over all the positives as well, but feel morally obligated to address one issue that I believe needs to be educated to your staff.

This thought has been nagging at me for days, that I needed to come forward and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, but I didn't want to focus on one negative aspect of my overall positive experience. However, because today we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I cannot help but remember his wise words, "The time is always right to do what is right." Therefore, I have to spread the word to end a word that many find offensive and unacceptable.

During my stay, I heard four members of your staff use the word retarded, referring to themselves or someone else for doing something stupid. Though I do know this word has latin roots and is used to describe many medical diagnoses, is found to be offensive when used in this manner. The main issue is that people who are literally mentally or physically retarded, find this term when used as a slur, to be highly insulting and offensive.

I am the parent of a child with significant special needs. I run a blog for other parents with children who have special needs. I was not personally offended when this word was used in your facility because I knew it was not done to be hurtful or unkind. However, it was done in ignorance. And ignorance, in my opinion, is the greatest disability. As an advocate for my daughter and all the other beautiful, unique people in this world who find this word offensive, I ask you to educate your staff, let them know that this word is NOT to be used in this manner. The use of this word needs to come to an end.. Not because of one patient's letter and your hopes that you can avoid a letter like this in the future, but because it is the RIGHT thing to do, and because I HOPE that you feel an ethical obligation to do the right thing.

To again echo Dr. King, "Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." I hope that as you have now been educated of this word's inappropriateness, that you too will become passionately concerned to spread the word to end this word in your organization.

I'd also like to share a link to a video and a few words I wrote about this on my blog awhile back. http://kidzorg.blogspot.com/2011/05/not-acceptable-r-word-psa.html.

Let me end by thanking all those who cared for me during my stay. I work in the healthcare industry myself and admire all those who provide patient care in any aspect. I hope this email/letter isn't seen as a complaint, but as a plea for progress, and that it is taken seriously.

Thank you very much,

Tara Bennett


11 comments:

Shasta said...

Wonderful, wonderful. Beautifully written, despite your lack of blood flow. Should the title be a "plea" for progress instead of a "please" though?

Tara said...

Yes, Shasta. I meant plea! I changed it moments after posting it, but you were on here quick! I'm glad you liked it, thanks for your feedback. We have to do whatever we can whenever we can to advocate and do the right thing!!!

MrsFought said...

You are very brave for standing up!! I am honored to call you friend. Thanks for standing up for what is right!!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful words. Perfectly said.

Rebecca said...

So glad you went through with writing this and sending it. Well done!

Jennie said...

Love it. I still hear that word more often that I would like. I hope the letter is taken at more than face value and actually passed on to staff. One my one, people are educated.

Erin said...

LOVE IT. I am so glad you wrote this, and it's perfecting eloquent, whether or not your brain blood flow is low. ;)

jennohara said...

Wow, so perfectly written, Tara.

marcy said...

I love it! You said it so well, and you were so polite, which helps get the message across better. I need to practice the polite part - sometimes I snap at people who use that term. I know I shouldn't. What is that saying? Something about attracting things with sugar vs. vinegar...?? You are definitely all sugar. Thank you!

Team Carter Jay said...

Fabulous!! Great job!

Becky said...

Beautiful! I haven't been here for awhile but so glad I came across your post tonight! I just got done writing an IEP for a student who is identified as mentally retarded/intellectual disability. I was thinking about his parents and trying to put myself in their place. Thank you for being such an advocate!