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Black nurses fight the twin pandemics of racism and coronavirus



uk nurses racism coronavirus twin pandemics abdelaziz lon orig_00001626

“Let’s use this opportunity to heal the community,” Ada said to protesters when they entered sunny Hyde Park.

Obiakor was there to support his daughter, the main organizer behind the June 20 anti-racism demonstration, but also to defend himself.

“As a black nurse, it is very important for me to get out today because in the system where I work, and in the NHS as a whole, there is racism,” Obiakor explained.

A practice nurse with 12 years experience, Obiakor, from London, said she had long faced discrimination and harassment in the UK public health care system, known as the National Health Service (NHS).

And he is not alone.

CNN interviewed a dozen black nurses in the British health sector. From students to medical workers with decades of experience, they work in different roles and settings – hospitals, nursing homes and clinics – across the country.

They all say that they have experienced racism at work – and are getting worse amid a coronavirus outbreak.

They told CNN that the pandemic pressure had exacerbated existing racial inequality, leaving black nurses vulnerable to harassment and discrimination.

They say they have been pressured to treat Covid-19 patients without proper personal protective equipment (PPE), to work in high-risk areas with greater caseload, and to be left too afraid to speak out, for fear of retaliation.

Their testimony highlights what they say is a systemic pattern of racism in one of the world’s most respected public health care system.

Responding to 12 testimonies about racism, NHS England said, “Covid-19 has highlighted health inequality in our country.”

The statement added, “Every NHS organization is expected to prioritize and carry out risk assessments for their BAME [Black, Asian, and minority ethnic] staff and other vulnerable groups as a matter of urgency, but besides doing everything possible to eliminate discrimination, and ensure that appropriate processes are available to deal with them quickly and effectively. “The organization did not respond to accusations of PPE shortages.

“Here we are again!”

Obiakor said he did not trust the system to hear black nurses and correct discrimination.

“What it means every day is: I am not treated fairly,” he told CNN. “I have no voice. Nobody is ready to listen to me. I might scream, they know I’m screaming, but they aren’t ready to take action. That’s what a black nurse feels.”

When severely ill coronavirus patients began to flood hospitals in Britain when the pandemic occurred in mid-March, Obiakor said he knew who would bear the heaviest burden.

This nurse used to read bedtime stories for her children. Now he writes essays in case he dies

“We are used to the Black people on the front lines, so when we enter, we say: ‘Here we are again!'” He said with an ironic laugh. “We are not surprised.”

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Carol Cooper, who is the manager of Equality, Diversity and Human Rights at the NHS Trust in the United Kingdom, has attended a listening session on race and equality after a public health crisis triggered by coronavirus. He said it was inevitable that black nurses would find themselves at the forefront of the battle against Covid-19.

“This is an indication of a greater trend,” Cooper said, when CNN shared its findings with him. “This is not random noise. This is an experience echoed throughout the country.

“We are faceless people behind us, but our talent has never taken us to the upper echelons. It needs to be stopped,” he said. “There must be very honest calculations at the NHS.”

One in five of all nurses in the UK come from ethnic Black or minority backgrounds, but about 95% of executive directors are white, according to a 2019 report from the NHS England.

For 42-year-old community nurse Monifa Thompson, the calculations cannot come soon.

Thompson has spent a lot of pandemics treating patients with suspected and confirmed coronavirus cases in their homes, sometimes without getting the proper PPE from their employers.

“I find racism at the forefront of everything,” he said. “We are pressured to see a large number of patients – I can see 21 in a day.

“You feel there is nothing you can change in this system,” he explained. “If you say something, you are labeled as ‘lazy nurse.'”

Systemic racism in sharper focus

Neomi Bennett, an agency nurse in London, said she paid the price to speak – but stressed that fear she could lose her life because the coronavirus encouraged her to file complaints about PPE.

Neomi Bennet said that CNN racism was so pervasive in the NHS that black nurses had developed codes to warn one another from wards where they were not welcomed by staff.

“I’m so paranoid to death,” Bennett told CNN. “Some mornings I will wake up shocked in my sleep trying to find something to smell, because of loss of smell [is] one of the symptoms. I want people to know that I am not protected. “

Bennett wrote a letter to his supervisor at a particular hospital, explaining that he had brought his N95 respirator mask to shift, only to be prohibited from using it. Instead, he said he was given a basic mask, gloves and apron to wear when treating Covid-19 patients.

“I feel uncomfortable and disturbed. I don’t want to continue my shift without proper PPE protection,” the letter, seen by CNN, reads. “However, I believe that if I left the department, this would endanger patient safety.”

His words were ignored, and he said the only solution was to refuse to work in the ward again.

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As an agency nurse, Bennett worked in several hospitals, and said he had found a way to quickly recognize places he would not welcome as a black nurse.

& # 39; The biggest racism trick ever drawn was to convince Britain that it didn't exist.

“Some nurses (Black) will give you some kind of code,” Neomi said rubbing two fingers on the back of her hand as if to accentuate the color of her skin. “That means the staff here don’t really like black people, and there will be some form of discrimination in shifts.”

As more and more minority health care workers lose their lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the systemic racism they say they face has become a sharper focus.

Minorities make up about 20% of UK NHS medical personnel, however preliminary analysis shows that they have caused 60% of health care worker deaths from the corona virus, according to British media reports.

At the height of the pandemic, the British public praised its nurses and doctors, with thousands of people gathered at the threshold of their homes every week to praise the efforts of health care workers.

But because the country “applauded to guard,” many CNN nurses spoke to say they were fighting for PPE.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) nurse union told CNN “our own recent survey shows that only 43% of BAME’s nursing staff have enough eye and face protection equipment.”

The RCN has asked employers to “take quick and comprehensive action to support and protect staff,” including providing effective PPE.

“There are no nurses who are placed at risk of contracting Covid-19 in providing care,” said a spokeswoman.

Limited government guidance

Ken Sazuze knows the risks. He and his wife Elsie, from Birmingham, returned to school as adults, to become nurses.

“I am aware of the difficult side of student life, but I am not aware of the discrimination side of nursing,” Sazuze told CNN. “Until I study, I see it: Boom! It’s different. It’s dangerous.”

He said his childhood lover faced persistent harassment and bullying but survived as a team. Elsie, a few years ahead of her husband in her studies, immediately graduated and got a job.

Ken and Elsie Sazuze met when they were teenagers in their home country, Malawi. As adults in the UK, the couple decided to go back to school and study nursing. Both soon faced racism and discrimination, but experienced their struggle together.
Student nurse Ken Sazuze was heartbroken and grieved after his wife, who works in a nursing home, died of the corona virus.

“He hates it on the NHS. I know he is not happy,” said Sazuze. “Not just because he is black. Because you are black and you are trying to change the system, because the system is designed [so that] Black will be the last. “

After four years, Elsie left the NHS-Sazuze saying her decision was, in large part, due to racism. He found work at a local nursing home and he said life was better. And then it becomes far, far worse.

In April, when coronavirus spread, most were not examined, through British nursing home, there are limited government guidelines on PPE.

“Elsie was wearing basic gloves, a basic mask and an apron and that’s all,” said Sazuze.

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The couple began showing symptoms of coronavirus (fever, cough, severe headache, fatigue, and loss of taste and smell) on the same day, Sazuze said.

The couple followed the British government’s advice to call 111, the NHS non-emergency number; Sazuze said they were advised to isolate themselves at home – away from their children – drink plenty of fluids, and call back in five days if symptoms worsen.

Four days later, Sazuze said that his 44-year-old wife woke up at 2 am, unable to breathe. He asked for help and filmed it on the phone.

“I was like, ‘Honey … you will be fine. When you are better I will show this to show how strong you are,'” recalls Sazuze.

When the paramedics took Elsie to the hospital, her husband said that he told her: “Don’t worry.”

But the mother of two children never recovered. When her condition worsened, she was placed on a ventilator. He died, a few days later, on April 8.

Most black Britons think the Conservative Party is institutionally racist, according to a CNN poll

Sazuze was heartbroken, and grieved, but not afraid. He said he planned to complete his nursing degree.

“I want to continue his legacy,” he told CNN. “He likes helping people.

“I don’t let bad people change me,” he insisted. “No, I will always help people regardless of where they come from, what color they are, what they say to me.”

When called upon to do their part to help save the country from the deadly virus, each of the 12 CNN nurses spoke by saying they had acted without hesitation, driven by an obligation to care for the sick.

Now they are begging to be treated equally at work and in life.

Back at Hyde Park in London, Obiakor said he felt he had fought two battles at the same time: Racism and coronavirus. He said he was more determined to emerge victorious – on both sides.

“If I knew when I spoke that there would be a change, I would speak every day,” he said. “I will bring the facts. I will bring the numbers. I will bring a witness.

“We want the NHS to be a place where everyone comes and they feel at home. They don’t care about how my manager talks to me, or what will happen tomorrow, no,” he added.

“That would be a beautiful place to work.”

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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