Starbucks changes bathroom policy following racial firestorm

File photo showing activist demanding firing of a Starbucks cafe manager who called police (AP)
Updated 11 May 2018
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Starbucks changes bathroom policy following racial firestorm

  • Chairman Howard Schultz says he does not want the company to become a public bathroom, but feels employees can make the “right decision a hundred percent of the time.”
  • The arrest of Rashon Nelson, along with his childhood friend and business partner, Donte Robinson, set off a firestorm for the company.

WASHINGTON: Starbucks has adopted an open-bathroom policy as a result of the arrest last month of two African American men at one of the franchises in Philadelphia.
Chairman Howard Schultz says he does not want the company to become a public bathroom, but feels employees can make the “right decision a hundred percent of the time,” if that choice is removed at the store level.
One of the men arrested on April 12 was denied use of a bathroom. He and his partner sat down to await a business meeting they had scheduled at the store, but were arrested minutes later by police.
The incident was captured by people using cell phones and it went viral.
The arrest of Rashon Nelson, along with his childhood friend and business partner, Donte Robinson, set off a firestorm for the company, which will shut down more than 8,000 of its US stores on the afternoon of May 29 to instruct 175,000 employees how to better recognize unconscious bias.
Access to store bathrooms, for which Schultz said Starbucks had maintained a “loose policy,” came into even sharper focus after another video, taken in January, emerged. The video shows a black man claiming he was denied access to a bathroom at a Starbucks in California while a white man was allowed entry. Neither man had made a purchase, according to the video shot by Brandon Ward, which is posted on his Facebook page.
Schultz, speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington on Thursday, said previous policy required a purchase, but that the decision was ultimately left with store managers, The Washington, The Seattle Times, and other media outlets reported.
The arrests in Philadelphia were a major embarrassment for Starbucks, which has long projected itself as a socially conscious company.
Nelson and Robinson settled with Starbucks earlier this month for an undisclosed sum and an offer of a free college education. Separately, they reached a deal with Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from city officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.


Virtual reality to improve patient experience in health care

Eng. Faisal Ayman Ashour helps introduce virtual reality (VR) to Saudi hospitals in 2018. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 February 2019
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Virtual reality to improve patient experience in health care

  • Saudi engineer’s innovation will help people with anxiety, addictions
  • Experiments must be completed before an idea can be distributed, that sometimes takes more than 10 years,” said Ashour

JEDDAH: Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-based three-dimensional imaging sequence that creates a world within a computer system, allowing users to interact with it via a display screen, usually mounted to the face.
Previously, VR had only really impacted the public through video games, but Eng. Faisal Ayman Ashour looked at it differently.
He saw it as a potential non-pharmacologic form of pain relief, by delivering enough sensory information to reduce patient anxiety, eliminating the need for sedatives.
Many hospitals around the world have started experimenting with it. A Calgary hospital recorded 75 percent reductions in discomfort monitoring patients using it, while another at Stanford in the US had similar results when using VR to distract children from receiving previously distressing procedures.
Ashour helped introduce VR to Saudi hospitals last year.
“I always believed every human has a purpose and a mission in this life, we all have talent within us, the challenge is how we develop such a talent. Not to reinvent the wheel and share someone else’s work, but to develop it. VR was invented for entertainment mostly, but such technology can enhance the patient’s quality of life at a low cost,” he said.
The target patients are children and those in palliative care, receiving procedures as simple as a vaccination, or as painful as resetting bones and applying casts.
“I’ve developed and gained more knowledge by merging engineering with medicine. I got my fellowship in medicine to speak the same language as physicians, to develop a solid medical simulation-training program in the Kingdom. Since 2016 I’ve developed several applications involving VR and alternative reality to help patients,” Ashour added.
VR technology in medicine has also been implemented in radiotherapy, CT scans, MRIs, physiotherapy and psychology. This progress hasn’t been without problems, however.
“Introducing such a new technology or concept to be used to replace a previous technique is challenging, especially in the medical field. Experiments must be completed before an idea can be distributed, that sometimes takes more than 10 years,” said Ashour.
“The idea was to engage engineers and physicians to introduce such a modern technology to enhance patient quality of life, and maximize cost efficiency. We have developed more than 10 virtual environments for both medical training purposes, and to improve medical outcomes.”