PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island Hospital patient is showing support for the nurses on strike by hanging a sign from his window on the eighth floor.
James Egan, 48, is a teacher at Mount Pleasant High School. He’s spending his summer vacation at Rhode Island Hospital as he undergoes treatment for acute myeloid leukemia.
“I wasn’t planning on spending my summer here,” Egan said.
Egan said it was surprise diagnosis, and just days after receiving it, he began a whirlwind of procedures and treatment, including chemotherapy.
It’s the friendship he’s made with the nurses taking care of him that made him decide to show his support for United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP), who after several failed contract negotiations began to strike on Monday.
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“In the 17 days [I’ve been here at the hospital], they’ve really turned into a family for me,” Egan said. “With everything that’s going on with me, they really made me feel at home.”
Egan said he worked on the sign all day Sunday, which reads: “UNAP is saving my life.”
“I just wanted to hang it up and show my appreciation to the wonderful staff that has been helping me with the cancer I wasn’t expecting to hear that I had,” he said.
Egan said he heard from nurses who are thankful for the sign, which is currently hanging in the window of his hospital room.
But, he said the hospital administration is not pleased.
“First thing this morning, a woman came in and introduced herself as the chief of the nurses, and she insisted that I take it down. And I refused,” Egan said. “They said it was a fire hazard, and then they said they were going to clean the windows, and then they said it was a visual obstruction hazard.”
The hospital confirmed they asked Egan to take the sign down, but wouldn’t tell us why they did.
Egan says he has no plans to take it down. He’s now calling on Lifespan to take care of the nurses, who have dedicated their lives to taking care of him.
“They’re angels. They’ve done so much to help me,” Egan said. “I just wanted to show my support.”
Egan says his prognosis is “pretty good,” and he’s received a ton of support. Right now, he said he hopes to get the nurses he has grown to know back in the hospital, but under the right terms.