'RN on wheels' to treat N.C. inmates

Latisha Anderson: "Disabled people do have a place in this world and will keep running my mouth"

By C1 Staff

RALEIGH, N.C. — Not many places would say they could use a paraplegic nurse, but Latisha Anderson is setting new standards for disabled workers.

Anderson was hired sight unseen by the Central Prison in Raleigh, according to the News Observer. Though she’d been told she wouldn’t be successful in a hospital environment since she was stuck in a wheelchair after a bullet took her legs at age 17, Anderson has proved everyone wrong by finishing nursing school, finding work and earning a graduate degree online.

But when she showed up at the prison she was quickly sent home. Anderson filed a complaint with the governor’s office and explained her case and desire to make a living through emails to the prison.

The prison responded by saying start Monday.

“If I have to be Harriet Tubman, so be it,” she said. “But disabled people do have a place in this world and will keep running my mouth.”

Anderson was injured in 1996, two months before she was set to join the Marines, when her cousin got into a fight with her boyfriend and fired off a shot, hitting Anderson from 20 feet away.

She received treatment at the same school where she would later attend.

“When I left there, I couldn’t even transfer from my bed to my wheelchair.”

Anderson rode buses to get to Wake Tech, where she earned her G.E.D. When buses arrived without a wheelchair lift, she complained until a change was made.

Anderson says she was inspired to start nursing because of Barry McKeown, a former surfer paralyzed in a car crash. He managed a nursing career that required work in the intensive care unit where he once saved a patient’s life with CPR. He told Anderson, “All you need is a stand-up wheelchair.”

Every school Anderson has attended highlighted her accomplishments, saying that she had to perform the same tasks as everyone else and said  that she often did them  better than able-bodied people.

“I think the fact that she’s had a lot of negativity thrown at her has sort of done the opposite,” said Samanta Chacon, a nursing practicum specialist. “I would never have thought her disability would ever prevent her from doing an amazing job.

“She didn’t let it stop her.”

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