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Vol. LXVI, No. 17
August 15, 2014

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Have a question about some aspect of working at NIH? You can post anonymous queries at (click on the Feedback icon) and we’ll try to provide answers.

Feedback: Once again, the NIH R&W is advertising a raffle for tickets to a game of the professional football team in Washington, D.C. Given NIH’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as its stated desire for a workplace free from discrimination, why is the R&W allowed to hold this raffle? Will it take someone to file an EEO complaint against the R&W and the NIH director to stop this? The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has again ruled the word “R-skin” is derogatory and every major civil rights organization in the U.S. has stated the same. Even the President, our boss, has said the name should be changed; yet this is allowed. Why?

Responses from R&W and ORS: “I personally do not like the name,” said R&W President Randy Schools. “When we get tickets, they say R-skin. Also, over the past 20 years, the players and alumni have raised over $1 million for Camp Fantastic and Friends of the Clinical Center. They introduce themselves as playing for the team. The major media—Washington Post, WTOP, Channels 4, 5, 7, 9—still call them the R-skins. Staff still want tickets, that’s for sure. I dearly hope they change the name, but until they do so, it will be difficult.”

Observes Tim Tosten of ORS, “The NIH Recreation and Welfare Association is a non-NIH entity that has a use agreement to use the NIH space to provide services to the NIH community such as employee stores, ticket sales, movie rentals, fitness centers, etc. Through our agreement with the R&W, they are entitled to sell to their customers the sporting tickets that they own, including those for Washington’s NFL team. If it is determined that the name is to be changed, then the R&W will advertise the sale/auction of the tickets using the new name.”

Feedback: The secure email web site that we use to communicate with [Clinical Center] patients is not user friendly for our patients. Patients do not like to use it. It would seem reasonable for us to communicate with them via a messaging system in CRIS or through the patient portal. Are there any plans for this to take place?

Response from the Clinical Center: Secure communication between patients and physicians is becoming an increasingly popular means by which information can be exchanged in an efficient manner. Such communication is governed by the Privacy Act, which requires the use of encrypted email in communications with patients to protect the confidentiality of their medical information. In July 2013, the Clinical Center implemented a patient portal offering patients the opportunity to review sections of their electronic medical record as well as to have access to key information about NIH and the Clinical Center. A future release will include secure messaging functionality to allow for a confidential exchange between patients and their research team. This functionality is expected to be available in 2015.

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