MASSACHUSETTS: Nurses Can’t Visit Certain Areas at Night
Under a rule designed to protect the safety of its workers in low-income, high-crime areas, the Visiting Nurse Association of Boston prohibits night visits by nurses in certain neighborhoods, the Boston Globe reports. The agency's policy, established nearly 20 years ago during a time when crime was high in central areas of Boston, "ensures the safety of its nurses as they make their way to patients' homes," Cassey Cuthbert-Allman, spokesperson for the VNA of Boston, said. But Vako Moses, who turned to the VNA for help when his father died after midnight, discovered the agency would not come to his neighborhood until morning. "I feel like it discriminates not only against [my father], but me, my family and residents in Dorchester neighborhoods," said Moses. The VNA prohibits nurses from entering parts of Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan and South Boston between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. In other communities, such as Winchester and Reading, the VNA will "dispatch help whatever the hour." Although the agency faces criticism for its policy, Cuthbert-Allman argues "it is unfair to criticize [the VNA] for taking precautions," because it is one of the few home- care agencies that services the city's low-income areas. She added, "Our mission has always been to help the community. We have nothing to hide about our policy."
Only During the Day?
Floyd Williams, a Dorchester funeral home operator, argues that VNA is "holding onto the same dated misconceptions that led grocery stores, pizza deliveries and malls to abandon the city." He said that the VNA "may be the only ones that come into the community, but they come into our community only during the day." Williams said he is talking to a Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination official to find out whether the VNA policy is legal. Eugenia Guastaferri, a MCAD hearing officer, said she is not sure if the policy is violates state law. She said, "The honest answer is -- it's not clear." The VNA of Boston, a private not-for profit agency, provides at-home health care services such as physical therapy, mental health care and diabetes management (Robertson, 4/30).