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For immediate release
May 15, 2007

Sandy Summers
410-323-1100 or 443-253-3738

Nurses want "sponge bath" Kelly scrubbed

A nursing group wants morning TV host Kelly Ripa suspended for vowing to be co-host Regis Philbin's "sponge bath nurse" in her "little nursey costume" after his March heart surgery.

The Truth About Nursing says Ripa should be dropped from the show for a week--the same amount of time Philbin spent at a New York hospital for his surgery. The group wants Ripa to spend the time shadowing hospital nurses to find out what they really do.

"We get that Kelly was joking, but nurses kept Regis alive in the hospital, and they deserve credit--not mockery--for that," said Truth executive director Sandy Summers. "We'd like Kelly to spend the same amount of time to see how nurses did it. She might also consider the damage the 'naughty nurse' stereotype she promoted is doing, during a nursing shortage that is taking lives worldwide."

The Truth reports that more than 700 nurses have written to the show to protest since Ripa's remarks aired and were publicized by many publications in mid-March. Despite the outpouring of anger, the show has yet to respond directly.

Nurses were not mollified by the show's apparent effort to make amends by having some of Philbin's nurses appear along with his physicians on his first day back in late April.

"Kelly and Regis expressed some generic gratitude, but they didn't let the nurses say a word--not one," said Summers. She noted that, by contrast, the show gave the physicians a long time to banter and educate the hosts and guest David Letterman, who had a bypass operation himself some years ago. The physicians were also lauded by the show for their skill and intellect.

"That just reinforces an even more pervasive and damaging stereotype," said Summers, "that nurses are noble but low-skilled physician handmaidens. The show should let nurses explain that they're not sex toys or mute servants, but educated professionals who save lives and improve patient outcomes."

Summers said she was sad that Philbin himself had not done more to remedy the damage. "Just thanking the nurses is not enough here," she said. "Nurses monitored Regis's condition during and after the surgery. They assessed him for complications, ran the advanced ICU technology, controlled his complex medication regimen, prevented deadly errors, taught him how to adapt to his condition. If nothing else, we hope he told Kelly."

See the Truth's full analysis of the initial events and the show's attempt to make amends.


The Truth About Nursing, founded in 2001, is a Baltimore-based non-profit organization that seeks to increase public understanding of the central, front-line role nurses play in modern health care. The focus of the Truth is to promote more accurate, balanced and frequent media portrayals of nurses and increase the media's use of nurses as expert sources.

See the Truth's About us pages.

For more information, please contact:

Sandy Summers, MSN, MPH, RN
Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
office 1-410-323-1100
fax 1-410-510-1790
cell 1-443-253-3738