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National Nurses United Launches ‘Deadly Shame’ Pandemic Shorts

Deadly Shame
Deadly Shame


North America

National Nurses United Launches ‘Deadly Shame’ Pandemic Shorts

As part of Nurses Week, National Nurses United (NNU) is releasing a series of animated shorts, developed in collaboration with award-winning artist Molly Crabapple and Sharp as Knives, that explore the nature of nurses’ work and help reconcile their role as one of the most publicly respected professions with how poorly they are treated by their employers and the government.

The Deadly Shame series consists of three episodes that illustrate how the pandemic exposed the devaluation of nurses’ care work by employers and elected officials who put profits before patients and workers, and how reversing this dynamic requires nurse organizing and solidarity.

“This series is a magnificent piece of work, both visually stunning and evocative, which clearly describes the systemic failures that devalue both nurses and patients in our current dysfunctional health care industry,” said Cathy Kennedy, RN and President of California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee and VP of NNU. “If you really want to understand nursing and what we nurses experience, you have to watch these films. While nurses are lauded as ‘heroes’ and honored with tributes, our employers continue to treat us as expendable. Through this powerful medium, we are able to share our frustrations, disappointments, anger and loss while encouraging the collective action to fight back for the well-being of all our patients.”

Each animated short is narrated by a nurse leader who is providing care throughout the pandemic — and who has fought for years for nurse and patient safety.

“It is unconscionable that more than 400 nurses lost their lives in this pandemic because while nurses were committed to protecting their communities, their employers were not committed to protecting them,” said Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN and also a President of California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee and NNU. “We know that the only way we are going to get what we need to stay safe in our hospitals and to push the government to act is by coming together and using our power and our voices to make the change we need for our patients and ourselves.”

Deadly Shame

Deadly Shame

  • Episode 1, “Deadly Shame: Care Penalty,” focuses on how employers, lawmakers and society at large have systematically devalued care work, labor that provides life-sustaining care to human beings and society. As nursing is historically characterized as “women’s work,” nurses pay a “care penalty” resulting in unfair wages and unsafe working conditions that threaten their very lives. Narrated by Zenei Triunfo-Cotez, RN and President of NNU.
  • Episode 2, “Deadly Shame: Moral Distress,” describes how nurses experience moral injury when they know the right thing to do, but the institutional failures resulting from a money-driven health care system make it impossible for them to do it, and also when they are disregarded and abandoned by employers and elected officials. Narrated by Catherine Kennedy, RN and Vice President of NNU.
  • Episode 3, “Deadly Shame: Nurse Power,” outlines how collective power allows nurses to address the care penalty, moral distress, as well as the short-staffing, lack of resources and discrimination that are inherent in the for-profit health care system. Narrated by Marissa Lee, RN and Vice President of NNU.

Watch all there shorts on the National Nurses United website here.

The animated series is based on the findings of Deadly Shame: Redressing the Devaluation of Registered Nurse Labor Through Pandemic Equity, a white paper by National Nurses United.

See more of Molly Crabapple and Sharp As Knives LLC’s work at and

Deadly Shame

Deadly Shame

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