Las Vegas Sun

April 17, 2014

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LOOKING IN ON: HEALTH:

MountainView using threats to deter nurses, union alleges

MountainView Hospital administrators are accused of intimidation, making threats and using religion in their fight against a nurses union attempt to organize, according to a federal complaint filed by the union.

The complaint, filed Tuesday by the California Nurses Association with the National Labor Relations Board, is based on the kind of allegations that unions are known to make in the heat of a battle. Union officials declined to provide evidence to back up their claims, citing the labor board’s investigation.

As for the allegation about religion, Lisa Morowitz, lead organizer with the union, said administrators are implying to nurses who may oppose abortion for religious reasons that the union favors abortion rights.

The union does not take a stance on abortion and includes 86,000 nurses who hold diverse opinions on the issue, Morowitz said.

The complaint postpones the union election that had been scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at the hospital, which is owned by Tennessee-based Hospital Corporation of America.

MountainView executives have been clear about their intent to persuade nurses not to vote for the union, but they deny breaking the law.

The hospital responded to the complaint with a statement: “The filing by the California nurses union is a typical stall tactic. Our nurses want an election. We want an election. The only group that doesn’t want an election is the union because our nurses are going to vote against them and they know it.”

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The prevalence of obesity has more than doubled in the United States in the past three decades, and it’s most common among minority groups, according to a recently published study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From 2006 to 2008, the estimated prevalence of obesity nationally was 26 percent collectively among black, Hispanics and whites, according to the study, released Thursday.

Nationally, 36 percent of blacks were considered obese, compared with 29 percent of Hispanics and 24 percent of whites.

Nevada was one of only four states where the obesity rate was higher among Hispanics than blacks. Blacks in Nevada have a relatively low rate of obesity compared with other states, while the Hispanic rate is relatively high.

According to the CDC study:

• An estimated 29.1 percent of Hispanic Nevadans were obese. Thirty-seven states had a lower percentage of obese Hispanics.

• An estimated 28.7 percent of black Nevadans were obese. Three states had a lower percentage of obese black residents.

• An estimated 22.8 percent of whites were obese, which was a tie for the 17th lowest percentage among all 50 states.

The study attributed the higher percentage of obesity in minority groups to a variety of factors. Blacks and Hispanics are less likely to participate in regular physical activity, and have different attitudes about obesity, the CDC said. Also, blacks and Hispanics are less likely to live in neighborhoods with easy access to supermarkets where healthy food and produce are readily available, the CDC said.

•••

A federal program that grants immigration status to foreign doctors on the condition they work in medically needy communities has been reauthorized for three years by the U.S. Senate.

The “Conrad 30” program, also known as the J-1 visa waiver program, underwent sweeping reforms in 2008 after a Las Vegas Sun investigation exposed a litany of problems. Some employers who sponsored the visas of the foreign doctors were diverting them away from the medically needy areas to more profitable locations, where they could make more money for the boss.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., co-sponsored the amendment, saying it will benefit Nevada by continuing to send doctors where they are most needed.

The J-1 program would have expired in September. The amendment was passed July 9 and was attached to Homeland Security Department legislation. It still must be signed by the president.

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Lame public relations pitch of the week: “Story Idea: August 3rd is Watermelon Day — How are you going to celebrate???”

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