Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Showtime's "Nurse Jackie" shows understanding of deaf community, sign language

By BA Haller
© Media dis&dat

Season 2 of Showtime's "Nurse Jackie," starring Edie Falco (pictured), premiered March 22 and included a storyline that showed understanding of the importance of sign language to the deaf community.

A deaf patient arrives in the trauma ward with a severely injured hand, and the attending doctor wants to just patch up the hand but not restore it to fully functioning. The outspoken Nurse Jackie character confronts the doctor, explaining that a deaf person will need a functioning hand to continue to effectively communicate in sign language.

The deaf woman's insurance won't pay for the specialized surgery needed to restore the hand, so Jackie asks the deaf woman's husband if she can talk to the insurance company on their behalf. In a brilliant montage of phone schmoozing, Jackie talks her way up the chain of command at the insurance company and finally finds someone she can talk into breaking the rules so the deaf woman can receive the hand surgery.

It's a wonderful vignette designed to show how a drug addict like Nurse Jackie can be super-competent on the job and use her manipulative skills for good. And it gives the audience some information about how important hand use is for deaf people whose primary language is sign.

is still super-competent at her job and then some, even making friends with the woman’s insurance company gatekeeper, ensuring that her expensive hospital bill is paid.