Hopkins treatment of workers is an embarrassment [Letter]

Johns Hopkins Hospital's refusal to openly negotiate with its underpaid health care workers is beyond embarrassing but unfortunately revealing of some of the real operating values of this world class institution ("Thousands gather to protest pay at Hopkins Hospital," May 10). As its' own Bloomberg School of Public Health has researched and demonstrated again and again, one's environment is as important a determinant of health as what goes on inside one's body.

Workers who come in every day exhausted, stressed and worried about their family's welfare cannot portray an example of health and well being that the hospital portends is one of its primary values. Even if some of these workers do not engage in direct patient care, the ripple effects of discontent and high anxiety do not create a healing environment for vulnerable patients.

Senior vice-president Pamela Paulk's solution is that workers who feel their wages are too low should utilize Hopkins' assistance with educational programs. Now, try working two jobs to make ends meet and raising three children. Where would one get the time and energy to take classes?

In the 1990's with President Bill Clinton's welfare reform, we saw formerly unemployed persons getting training, finding jobs and still being at loose ends when those jobs didn't pay enough and then having less time to monitor their children. Today, will Hopkins allow these workers to take paid time from work to take classes, and will they then assure them of a better job on the other end?

If Hopkins really wants to portray itself as a fine institution not only in the eyes of the world at large but right here at home, then it will find a way to support those who labor day after day by paying them enough to have an adequate lifestyle.Joyce Wolpert, Baltimore

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