National Nurses United

Registered Nurse September 2008

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Profile:FINAL 9/30/08 3:08 PM Page 18 Beyond Her Years Though rn jan rodol fo is among CNA/NNOC's younger board members, she has already proved to be a seasoned activist and leader. by luc ia hwang R egistered nurse Jan Rodolfo learned early not to trust insurance companies and, fortunately for CNA/NNOC, also how to fight them. In 1991, Rodolfo was a teenager growing up in Chicago when a disturbed graduate student at the University of Iowa went on a shooting spree, killing five people and critically injuring Rodolfo's cousin, who happened to be working in the office where the gunman opened fire. Rodolfo and her family immediately hopped in the car, plowing through a blizzard in the middle of the night to be with her cousin. The gunshot paralyzed her cousin, who became quadriplegic. For the next months, Rodolfo stayed at her cousin's side in the intensive care unit, keeping her company and acting as her advocate. When Rodolfo's cousin was finally ready to leave the hospital and be relocated to a Chicago rehabilitation center to begin the long, slow process of relearning all her basic motor skills, her workers' compen18 REGISTERED NURSE sation insurance company blocked the transfer, saying they wanted her to stay in Iowa City. Though Rodolfo's family had tried to shield her cousin from the media, they now held a press conference protesting the denial and asking the community to help by calling the insurance agent. Lo and behold, the transfer was soon approved. "It was a real concrete lesson in how to put a human face on an issue and apply pressure," remembers Rodolfo. "My take on healthcare reform and social policy started then." Even now, though Rodolfo is modest by nature, she's not shy about getting in front of television cameras, microphones, or newspaper reporters to make her case. From that point, Rodolfo matured quickly as an activist. While other teenagers were hanging out at the mall, she helped defend women's clinics against often-violent anti-abortion activists. In addition to her cousin's ordeal, she credits her parents, who were both active in the Civil Rights movement, her feminist mother, and a grandmother in the textile union for nurturing her progressive politics. Today, Rodolfo is an oncology RN at Alta Bates Summit Medical W W W. C A L N U R S E S . O R G SEPTEMBER 2008

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