Monday, February 25, 2013

Unemployed nurses, while Tuberculosis spreads

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, LA County is experiencing a serious outbreak of Tuberculosis, and it seems to be spreading particularly fast among the county's poorest residents (see article here).

About a month ago, it was reported that newly licensed nurses are having an extremely hard time finding jobs in California and elsewhere (see that article here).

During the Great Depression, New Deal work & construction programs built Tuberculosis hospitals, hired unemployed nurses and pharmacists to treat low-income Americans with communicable diseases, operated mobile health clinics, gave immunizations, and raised awareness about health problems through posters like the one you see above.

The New Deal helped the Tuberculosis problem become so small that many Tuberculosis treatment centers eventually shut down for lack of patients.  The Henryton State Hospital in Carroll County, Maryland, and the Genn Dale Hospital in Prince George’s County, Maryland—two Tuberculosis hospitals that benefited from New Deal construction—lay in ruins, unneeded for decades.

Today, of course, we limit good preventative health care to those who can afford it (and it remains to be seen how well Obamacare will mitigate this reality). And we look at unemployed nurses and throw up our hands in bewilderment , “What can we do??”


So, let’s sum this up: Nurses can’t find work, Tuberculosis spreads, and we look at each other like deer caught in the headlights.


(Image above is a WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Emoticon courtesy of

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