Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal  0:00  

Dr. William Birch is the President of the Medical Society of Eastern Pennsylvania. And the 190-member organization is making its feelings known in reference to Sara Allen nursing home situation.

Dr. William Birch  0:12  

We found that there was one nurse and two aides for approximately 36 patients on one particular floor. And these were not patients who could walk, or who could take care of themselves. These were patients who needed someone to bathe them, feed them, move them from the bed to the wheelchairs, and give them total care. On other floors, we found patients who are ambulatory. These were the biggest problems that we found today, in addition to the fact that the maintenance of the building, there have been, obviously, no one to clean. When you think of a nursing home and the complaints that people generate regarding nursing homes, this is the situation that exists.

Mumia Abu-Jamal  0:59  

We talked a little before we began recording about a word you’re not really crazy about and why: “handicapped”. What does that mean to you? And why are you not someone who likes to use that word?

Dr. William Birch 1:12  

“Handicapped,” to me, is like building a fence around a person and saying, ‘Now you may only function within the confines of that fence.’ To me, I am not handicapped, unless the public makes me that way. And by that, I mean, if I am, for instance, out doing my shopping, and they have parking spaces set up for handicapped people, and some guy pulls in and says, ‘Well, I’m in a hurry and could care less that there’s somebody who might need that parking space to get a wheelchair out of a car,’ then I become handicapped. If I want to go into a public building and I can’t get in because there are 12 steps, and there’s no one to get my wheelchair up those 12 steps, then I become handicapped. If I meet someone who looks at me and, instead of seeing me as an individual, sees me as an abnormality, then I become handicapped, only in that person’s eyes. For that reason, I don’t like the word.