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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

National Patient Safety Awareness Week

This week, March 12-18, 2017 is  National Patient Safety Awareness Week. Recently, I  took the pledge for Patient Safety  and I encourage you to do so too, by taking the Healthcare Professional Pledge , "I pledge to strive to implement and follow the practices that increase the safety of my patients and my team". This is an initiative of the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF).

These 2 very important leaders in health care improvement and policy have chosen this week to announce that the  Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and the NPSF have agreed to merge.  This is fantastic! These 2 organizations are working hard to improve patient care, and supports the importance of clinicians' role in identify systems' breakdown. See their video here IHI-NPSF-Announce-Merger.

These are tough times for health care. With so much unknown about what the future will look, and no matter what your political view is, we can all agree it is time to join forces and focus on what is most important. Patients! Every one of us got into to healthcare because we want to help people, and we want the best for our patients. Let's continue to work together.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Guest Post on

I would like to Thank Brittney Wilson, The Nerdy Nurse, for having me as her guest post on her blog.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Missing: nurses on governing boards

As a member of my state nursing association, I pay attention to the emails alerting me to legislation that is important to nursing. Recently, I was asked to send a letter to my state representative and senator asking them to endorse a bill that would require the governor to appoint a registered nurse to the Governing Board of the Health Policy Commission. This seems like a no brainer to me.

What I find frustrating is that nurses are not routinely invited to the board which makes policy decisions in health care. Why is that, I wonder?

Two years ago, the home health agency I worked for was integrated into a new Division that included a clinic and the ED. On that board of directors were physicians and physician's assistants. The VNA was 1/3 of this division and yet, the COO of the Division, formerly the VP of the VNA (an RN) and the Director of the VNA (an RN) were not on the board, nor were any Nurse Practitioners from the ED or the clinic.

I found this to be unacceptable, so I wrote to the President of the Division:  "As a home care nurse, I am excited to hear that (division's) goal is to provide “integrated, seamless care". We, in home care, have been trying to overcome working in silos to better serve our patients for quite some time. At (the VNA), we have been working diligently to improve care for our patients and our providers. I would like know why nursing is missing as a colleague at the board of directors? If we are to "achieve our goal as  a team", shouldn't the team be representative of all the service providers? Certainly, our home care division should be represented on this board, I can't imagine why it is not."

His reply: "Your question raises a great point as we build the (Division)  into an organization that focuses on improving the transitions of care in an effort to improve our patients outcomes and care experience.  I want you to know that I feel the Home Care Division will play a very important role in helping us achieve this vision and is currently represented at each Board Meeting.  The COO of the Division and former VP of the Home Care Division is in attendance at each Board Meeting and just recently we have invited the VNA Director to attend all future Board meetings.  Both the Board Chair, and myself will be working closely with (them) to ensure “the voice” of the Home Care Division is heard at our Board meetings and is an integral part of our strategic plans moving forward.
As we continue to build this new enterprise, we will also be looking at the Board structure and its members to ensure it is aligned with the vision we are trying to achieve.    I will certainly carry your suggestion forward as we do this work."

I checked again today, the VNA is no longer under that division and has reverted to its own division, as it was before the changes. I checked all of the Boards that lead the organization, lots of doctors but no nurses to represent the 1,500 nurses within the organization.  Apparently, it must be legislated to get nurses at the table. Excuse me, I believe it's time to email my legislators.

 3/9/17 Update: Today, I received a newsletter from the organization I was referring to in this post. I am thrilled to report, the organization has elected a nurse working at the organization to the board of trustees. Progress is being made!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Zika Zinger

Well, I have ended my 19 year stint as a home care nurse with a bang. The very last patient I called to arrange a visit informed me they thought they had "Zinker" Virus. Turns out it was probably food poisoning or some GI virus but definitely not Zika here in the northeast. With great restraint, I reassured the patient by educating them in the fine points of Zika and the usual symptoms (in which this patient did not have a single one). It reminded me of what my grandmother use to say when someone was whining complaining about coming down with some ailment. She would calmly reply " Well, if you want it bad enough, you can have it."
Good luck to all of you caring for our in hospital and community patients. I am sure we will be hearing this refrain a lot, I am afraid. And I am sure someone eventually will get Zika, but I am not so sure they really wanted it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dream Job

Today I am basking in that wonderful feeling of having landed the perfect new job. I am excited, nervous, and anxious to begin. I will be leaving an organization I have worked for the past 19 years. I've worked in several positions there;  some staff, and briefly in management. But, it is time for me to move on.

I am no stranger to taking on a challenge. This will be the most challenging yet. All those other experiences have taught me I can do this. Imagine becoming an OR nurse right out of nursing school! Yup, did that. Then, 2 years later I walked into a busy Boston hospital, thinking I was experienced enough for that. Of course, I found out it was like starting all over again.

Later, after I became an expert in that field, I longed to be a critical care nurse. How naive I was to think I could do that job. But learn it I did. And for 15 marvelous years I worked with the best group of nurses I have ever met.

Of course, commuting to the city was taking up too much time away from raising my girls. So, on to home care I went. I remember looking into that blue bag with a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff and thinking I had lost my mind. I was going to take care of cardiac surgery patients discharged home after 5 days! However, that experience was the most rewarding of my nursing career. I learned that my assessment skills went way beyond the technology I was use to relying on.

Now, I will be going back to the technical. This position will be improving patients early recovery at home with new technology. It seems I have come full circle.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Are we making progress?

Are we making progress in nursing on incivility and lateral violence. I hope so. Every nursing publication and web site I subscribe to has brought it to the forefront. Since nursing has once again achieved the most trusted profession, we have  a lot to live up to. Treating each other with respect and kindness has a rippling effect. Let's pay it forward to one another. We've worked too hard for too long to let bickering amongst ourselves tarnish this great opinion others have of us, because we are better than that.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Magic Word

Ok, time to get back into this blogging thing.

So today, I am reflecting on The Magic Word or actually words, for dealing with unpleasantness found in this little video. I saw this on Workplace Diva' s blog. I must remember these the next time I find myself in a distressing situation.

How many times have I been insulted by patients or their family members? Too many times, and afterwards I am left wondering
1. What did I do to provoke them?
2. How could I have handled that better?
3. How can I fix this relationship so we can work together harmoniously?

I know I will continue to work with patients, families, and co-workers that I don't like, but I know I can make it  work if I can understand where we went wrong.

"That's interesting, tell me more." Or "That's interesting, why would you say that?"  Are definitely great ways to get the conversation going and find out where that person is coming from. Then, I can turn the relationship around  (pun intended). Simple, yet effective.