While heeding the call to care for others, nurses in New York have been thinking outside the box when it comes to patients and processes. From volunteering in youth camps to promoting helmet use, local nurses are working to improve the profession and patient care one unit at a time. This Nurses Week, help Nursing Spectrum celebrate these special nurses and RNs everywhere who have given their all and more for the passion of nursing.
Adding to the Camp ExperienceRita Williams, RN
During the past decade, Rita M. Williams, RN, MA, FNP-BC, education manager at the Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, has worked for the Fresh Air Fund summer camp program in Fishkill, N.Y. The fund provides sleep-away camp experiences free of charge for inner city children, most of whom have never experienced being away from home. Williams only planned on working one summer for the camp, so she could be near her son who was a junior counselor at the time. My son only worked for two summers, she says. For Williams, however, That one summer has turned into 10.
As part of a team of nurses, Williams meets all of the children, looks for signs of abuse or health concerns, administers medications and wipes teary, homesick eyes.
Camp nursing is emotionally rewarding because it provides a connection to young people. We not only give first aid, but also become role models, educators and friends, Williams says.
Being a camp nurse allows Williams time to discuss with campers, and young counseling staff, issues close to her heart: healthcare maintenance and substance abuse prevention. Williams, who also is an established stand-up comedian, uses humorous anecdotes and songs to provide educational seeds, and smiles when returning campers ask her to perform her nurse rap.
Alleviating Patients PainFrantzces Alabre, RN
As a pain management nurse practitioner at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases at Langone Medical Center in New York City for the past six years, Frantzces Alabre, RN, FNP, BC, has participated in revising pain management protocols and policies.
As chairperson for the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases Pain Management Committee, I raised issues brought forth by nursing staff, peers and from personal observations to the committee, Alabre says.
The committee implements changes using evidence-based practice after discussion with the interdisciplinary team. A specialist in pain management, Alabre collaborated with the pain management team and nursing education to facilitate an ongoing pain management education program for nurses and other healthcare professionals. The education program also addresses cultural differences in perception and management of pain.
Alabre also volunteered in one of the makeshift hospitals in Haiti in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake. She made it her priority to advocate for pain medications for Haitian patients and taught them about their prescribed pain medication regimen. Already familiar with Haitian culture and perceptions, Alabre easily approached the subject of pain control entitlement and palliative pain management despite environmental constraints.
Ensuring Happy CampersMaureen Eisele, RN
For the past 10 years, Maureen Eisele, RN, has coordinated The Ruth Gottscho Children’s Kidney and Dialysis Program at Frost Valley Camp in Claryville, N.Y., a cooperative program of the Ruth Gottscho Kidney Foundation, Frost Valley YMCA and the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore where Eisele is a nephrology nurse on the pediatric dialysis unit.
As nurse coordinator, Eisele oversees camper selection, staffing, equipment, regulatory compliance and the Dialysis Centers daily routine. The program at Frost Valley was one of the first programs for kids with renal failure, and it remains one of the only camps with an on-site dialysis unit where kids in the dialysis program are mainstreamed into the whole camp experience, she says.
The program averages about 12 children, from ages 7 to 17, in each of the two-week sessions, with a total of four sessions each summer. The treatments range from hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis to monitoring of kidney transplant recipients.
One of the biggest challenges is with peritoneal dialysis. At camp, kids switch to continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis, which takes 20 to 30 minutes, four times a day. These treatment cycles become part of the daily schedule at camp for these campers, fitted around mealtimes and activities.
Parents say they are appreciative of a camp opportunity for their children and enjoy the two-week respite from the heavy medical responsibility of caring for a chronically ill child, Eisele says.
Educating on End-of-Life CareLaura Hummel, RN
Laura Hummel, RN, MSN, CHPN, is a holistic, advanced practice nurse working as an administrator in palliative care at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, N.Y. Certified in hospice and palliative care nursing, Hummel has a passion for improving care for patients and families struggling with advanced life limiting illness.
To provide optimal palliative and end-of-life care, Hummel believes nurses must be educated and given the resources to manage the complex needs of their patients and their families. In addition, staff caring for those with overwhelming pain and suffering need to be encouraged and given time to renew and nourish themselves.
With that goal in mind, Hummel has worked with an interdisciplinary team for the past two years to provide End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium education and training to more than 50 members of the nursing staff. The goal of the program is to provide nurses with the education and skills necessary to integrate quality end-of-life and palliative care into their daily nursing practice. Upon completion, nurses take home practical information and guidelines on managing pain and suffering and attending to the psychological, social and spiritual needs of their patients and families.
Throughout the two-day training, nursing staff explore their own cultural beliefs, values and spirituality and discuss as a group their personal challenges and experiences in caring for the dying, Hummel says. Nurses then attend a session on the importance of caring for the caregiver and are given tips on stress management and self-care. South Nassau Communities established a formal palliative care consultation program in March.
Promoting the Helmet HabitNancy McNeill, RN
The innocent victims of trauma who Nancy McNeill, RN-BC, MA, CCRN, encountered in her practice as a clinical nurse specialist for pediatrics and the PICU at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, N.Y., motivated her to spearhead an initiative that would raise the work begun by two staff nurses to a higher level.
Maureen Trifari, RN, BS, and Kathy Melly, RN, BS, MS, recognized the importance of helmets in the prevention of head trauma and began a program to educate children and their families. They printed flyers about proper helmet fitting and brought the Helmet Safety message to health fairs and other community activities.
Encouraged by their initial successes, McNeill applied for a grant from the New York State Traffic Commission and was given a $2,000-per-yer stipend that allowed the pediatric nurses to purchase various sized helmets to distribute over a two-year period.
Led by McNeill, staff nurses visited elementary schools and presented the Get into the Helmet Habit message directly to elementary school children. At the conclusion of the program each child received a new, properly fitted helmet. More than 600 helmets were distributed during this period of time.
The best decision we made was to bring the message directly to the children, McNeill says. I believe their buy-in was essential to assure compliance with helmet use.
Mentoring Home Health AidesBridget Gallagher, RN
Jewish Home Lifecare is a large metropolitan healthcare system providing services for more than 14,000 older adults. As its senior vice president for community services, Bridget Gallagher, RN, MSN, GNP, has the opportunity to work with a stellar team to plan how to best meet the needs of the ever-growing aging population of patients who have verbalized their desire to age at home with autonomy and dignity.
One of the initiatives that began as a result of that strategy is the Berman Peer Mentor Program for Jewish Home Lifecares home health aides. The organization employs its own home health aides and wanted to create a career path specific to them that would help it retain these pivotal care providers.
Any home care RN will tell you that technology will help, but on a day-to-day basis, it is the home health aide that makes a difference in the clients status, Gallagher says.
Aides who have worked with the organization for more than a year can apply to receive specialized training and subsequent certification as a Berman Peer Mentor. In this role, they are paired with newly hired aides or aides who need special assistance and are a regular support contact for a period of one year, guiding and coaching the new aides in their role. The Berman Peer Mentors receive a pay increase, says Gallagher, and the new home health aides have invaluable guidance.
We have seen an 8% increase in our home health aide retention rate overall and an even higher increase in our Berman Peer mentor retention rate since inception of the program in 2007, Gallagher says.
Keeping Diabetes at BayCarmela Percontra, RN
Carmela Percontra, RN, MS, nursing supervisor at the Metropolitan Jewish Adult Day Health Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and her staff care for a high risk and largely immigrant population of mostly seniors older than 75 with multiple co-morbidities. To reduce the incidence of diabetes among these patients, Percontra began a diabetes management program that she has been running for several years.
In addition to our diabetic population, we identified a population [that was] potentially at risk for developing diabetes, she says. Under the direction of her supervisor, Percontra developed an evidence-based practice method to engage clients in a program that would identify patients at risk of diabetes.
As the Pre-Diabetes Management Program began, clients who were at risk for developing diabetes were identified during a health fair. Then they were invited by an RN to attend a Pre-Diabetes Management Support Program offering education and self-management skills to teach them to safely manage their status and prevent disease progression.
Percontra leads the weekly group meetings, which have high levels of participation. Clients now arrive at the center without their usual hose but instead wear socks for easy access on foot check days. Many of our not at-risk clients regularly and voluntarily attend this program and are also learning some healthful hints, Percontra says.