Tuesday, June 09, 2015

EDITORIAL >> Honoring our nurses

National Nurses Week has been observed in some form since 1954 and in 1991 the American Nurses Association board of directors expanded the well-deserved recognition of nurses to a week-long celebration every year.

An educated group, from licensed practical nurses, to those with diplomas, two- and four-year degrees, and on to those with specialized master’s degrees, doctorates and a range of specialized postgraduate training including midwifery, education and administration, nurses are those who are called on to get the patient well, keep them and their families well and educate them on how to stay well, and provide resources and education on any number of health-related topics for the whole family through all the stages of life.

They are also at the frontline of the newer modes of delivery of health-care services, which include primary care and urgent care facilities, springing up in varied locations to take the burden off emergency rooms for day-to-day illnesses — sore throats, fevers, pink eye, flu — and a myriad of illnesses, which need care and treatment. Minor emergencies often need treatment during hours when physicians’ offices are closed or when appointments are unavailable. Advance practice nurses can step in to fill the gap.

Nurses today can obtain advanced practice designations and postgraduate training enabling them to function much as primary-care physicians do. They can prescribe medications within the framework of their expanded training.

They offer education, support and help for their patients through all phases of the life cycle — from birth to the final days in hospice. They direct ancillary caregivers as they deliver patient care, and they develop patient-care plans to ensure patients are cared for with a degree of uniformity. We admire their flexibility and ability to assume many roles.

Nurses today are also finding their ways into administrative roles, much like Cindy Stafford, the unceremoniously dismissed chief executive officer at North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville.

Stafford took over a troubled hospital, which was not on firm footing and had been losing money for years before she was named administrator by Allegiant. She seemed to be making changes for the better, seemed to be clearing up the past dues although more problems were constantly cropping up. She was respected mostly in the community that sensed her hard work. Her pace probably didn’t please the higher ups but repairing image is a painstaking process. We wish her the best.

Still North Metro is highly criticized and constantly seeking to repair its image in the community. We wish the new administration well. It is, after all, our hospital and we want to be proud of it.

It would be a sad loss to the area to lose the emergency room, which to all appearances functions well. It is the first stop for local victims of serious trauma, anaphylaxis, heart attacks and strokes. Many of these are stabilized and moved to Little Rock facilities for long-term treatment.

And who is caring for these patients? In addition to highly qualified physicians, you got it, it’s the nurses, a highly skilled group.

A big thank you is in order the next time a nurse takes care of you.