Monday, January 14, 2013

An open letter from Gloria Hartley, John Benko

January 11, 2013,
Gloria S. Hartley, RN
(Address withheld here)
Mr. Matt Maxfield, CEO
Seton Medical Center
850 W. Central Texas Expressway
Harker Heights, Texas 76548
            254-690-0900 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            254-690-0900      end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            254-690-0900 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            254-690-0900      end_of_the_skype_highlighting      end_of_the_skype_highlighting      
Re: The termination of Donald Hartley, Eagle Security Systems, for being Catholic in a Catholic Hospital.
I am writing to you as a nurse of many years, as a practicing Catholic, and as a wife and concerned citizen of this community.
As a nurse: I have always had a deep respect for the Security provided by the hospitals that I have worked. I looked at them as persons of protection, not only for my safety,but, for the safety of the patients. I have seen them defuse situations involving aggressive, combative, and psychotic patients/visitors.
As an Emergency Room nurse, I always made a point of knowing the Security personnel in my areas for the following reasons: They have actually saved my life from combative & psychotic patients who were acting out and uncontrollable and from gang war participants who actually presented to the ER to do bodily harm to the patient/caregivers.
This was at at UAB (Level I) Emergency Room in Birmingham, Alabama. Therefore, during my 38 year tenure as an RN, I have developed a deep respect for the Security personnel and a dependence on their specialized skills.
Some years ago I worked for St. Vincents Hospital in Birmingham and, though a non-Catholic at the time, I respected the beliefs and the philosophy of the hospital. As Head Nurse of the new born Nursing/NICU: Prayer was offered before each shift started, I performed baptisms on still born and babies who died after birth, and always asked the Pastoral Nun to "Send a prayer up for me Sister".
Sister would always smile and say "You know I will, you're handling precious cargo". This was comforting.
I have worked many holidays and missed important time with my family, all in my dedication to the patients. During these times I was appreciative of anyone trying to spread cheer to let me know they cared.
This tour at St. Vincents Hospital and their caring philosophy and staff encouraged me to seek knowledge of the Catholic Church and their teachings.
As a practicing Catholic: I am appalled at your decision to discharge a Security Guard for saying "Merry Christmas" to personnel on a unit during his rounds in the Hospital.
Catholics believe in Christmas AND this IS a "Catholic Hospital", named after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Canonized August 28, 1974. One of her notable quotes is "Cheerfulness prepares a glorious mind for all the noblest acts".
Did the Christmas caroling the week prior to Christmas also offend this nurse? I can't think of many carols that don't mention the Christ Child or say Merry Christmas. How hard could it be for the disgruntled nurse to say 4 words "The same to you"? I have done it all my career. A nurse is not to be judgmental of religion or multiculturalism. "Catholics believe the spiritual needs should be given higher priority than the physical and temporal", therefore, we are obligated to call a priest when requested for sacramental ministry.
Giving counsel and emotional support are roles that they willingly accept with the patients or relatives. (1)
What would this argumentative nurse do in this situation? Would she sneer? What is her reaction, as a nursery nurse, to the stillborn or death after birth of the Catholic baby? Her reaction to Donald's "Merry Christmas" statement poses a lot of questions about her "dedication, generosity of spirit, especially for the persons most in need". (2)
The American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC), an entity of the American Nurse Association (ANA) states in Force 13: "Collaborative working relationship within and among the disciplines are valued. Mutual respect is based on the premise that all members of the health care team make essential and meaningful contributions in the achievement of clinical outcomes". (3)
Is the Security personnel not an essential part of the Health Care Team?
Donald Hartley, my husband and best friend, has a unique and rare optimistic attitude at all times. An optimism that has carried him through 26 years and 4 deployments as a respected and honorable U.S. Army Soldier. He has always projected this optimism to his Soldiers and acted as an advocate for them. General David Petraeus stated that "SFC Hartley was his favorite medic".
How do you justify the firing of a devout Catholic in a "Catholic Hospital", for trying to spread Cheer on Christmas Day? Shouldn't this nursery nurse and the H.R. personnel be scrutinized a little closer? Maybe they should read the mission and vision statement again. Or is this due to Political Correctness? If so, for shame!
Nursing is a fine art. According to Florence Nightingale, it is "the finest of fine arts." Nursing is not merely a technique but a process that incorporates the elements of soul, mind, and imagination. Its very essence lies in the sensitive spirit and the intelligent understanding that provide the very foundation for effective nursing care. (4)
Yes, I am my husbands most fierce advocate, as I am closest to him and know his dedication to Christ and his dedication to his family and work. In fact, I have worked side by side with him on many occasions as an R.N. in the Fort Campbell Emergency Room when he was AOD of the House. We have worked deaths, teen suicides and child abuse cases. Though it affected him greatly, he was a comfort to the families and always seemed to know exactly what to say to them.
You will never find a factual adverse account of Donald, in fact, you will only hear positive comments from his peers, former commands, friends and family. I challenge you to delve into this.
Eagle Security Systems fired Donald with a phone call! He was not even granted the dignity of a letter or a face to face with his supervisor. Isn't an employee of your facility supposed to get a letter and a chance to rebuttal?
I would appreciate your investigation of this travesty and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Gloria S. Hartley
Fr. Chris Downey, Holy Family Catholic Church
Bishop Joe Vasquez, Austin Diocese
Bill O'Rielly, Fox News Network

1. A Hospital Handbook on Multiculturalism and Religion; Neville A. Kirkwood; 2005; Morehouse Publishing.
2. Seton Medical Center Harker Heights, Mission, Vision, and Values
3. American Nurses Association Mission Statement.
4. NURSING, The Finest Art; M Patricia Donahue, Ph.D., R.N.; 1985; The C.V. Mosby Company.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez,
Contact Information
Contact: Melinda Johnson
Location: Pastoral Center
6225 Highway 290 East
Austin, TX 78723-1025
            (512) 949-2400 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (512) 949-2400      end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (512) 949-2400 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (512) 949-2400      end_of_the_skype_highlighting      end_of_the_skype_highlighting      

From John Benko, friend of Donald Hartley.

Mr. Matt Maxfield, CEO
Seton Medical Center
850 W. Central Texas Expressway
Harker Heights, Texas 76548

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez,
c/o Melinda Johnson

Location: Pastoral Center
6225 Highway 290 East
Austin, TX 78723-1025

January 12th, 2013

Your Eminence and Mr. Maxfield,

     I am writing to express my moral outrage at the termination of Donald Hartley from Seton Medical Center for what amounts to nothing more than religious bigotry on the part of a nurse. In these days and times, I constantly think I can no longer be stunned but then I hear something like this.

     Donald Hartley is a decorated and heroic veteran who worked closely with General David Petraeus. He is also the very kindest, bravest and most sincere Catholic I know. Part of the mission statement of your hospital indicates that you are, in your care and actions, to exemplify the actions of Jesus Christ. I do not personally know a single person who does that better than Sgt. Hartley.

     At the last moment, Sgt. Hartley gave up his Christmas day because there was a need in coverage. That is the way this man is. In my view, He could very easily have said no. He gave up more than enough Christmases in Iraq, defending our country and the rights we enjoy.

     Among these rights are the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. He was fired for defending the very rights he put his life on the line to secure for you and I, sirs, am appalled.

     Let's get right to the marrow of the matter. Mr. Hartley was given an award on Christmas Eve for his service to your organization. He is the very epitome of kindness, civility and generosity and he never has an unkind word for anyone. This man was fired from a Catholic hospital, for defending Christmas Day, on Christmas Day from an over-zealous bigot. She attacked him, not the other way around. When she snidely asked if he really believed that Jesus was born on December 25th, He simply replied 'Yes, and it can be proven by Scripture and Tradition and even science". Nothing in Sgt. Hartley's words or demeanor were aggressive towards this person in any way. She simply disagreed with his opinion and got him terminated for it!

     Donald Hartley was trying to make the best of working on Christmas Day, something he was doing as a favor to you. Donald Hartley was simply spreading the joy of Christ and Christmas on His own birthday and he lost his job for it. 

     Sirs, I am acutely aware that your jobs must have tremendous pressure. However, a moral wrong has been committed here and you, as a Catholic medical institution, have a moral obligation to make it right. We are many deeply concerned Catholics and we fully intend to exert extreme pressure to ensure that you do, up to and including, picketing your hospital until this fine man is reinstated with your deepest apologies.


John Benko

(address withheld here)

May any lover of freedom join us in this.

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