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No One Dies Alone

Sandra Clarke, a nursing supervisor in Eugene, Oregon, had an experience in 1986 that eventually turned into an effective program at Sacred Heart Medical Center. An elderly man, slipping away, asked her to sit with him. But she was busy, just starting rounds, with six other patients who needed her first. She told him, "I'll be right back." But by then, he had already died-alone. Now, with 200 hospital employees or seasoned volunteers on the No One Dies Alone roster, Clarke responds when she receives a call from nursing staff that a patient with less than 72 hours to live, a do-not-resuscitate order and no family around needs someone to sit at the bedside.

 

Volunteers receive instructions and orientation and are urged to treat the patient as they would family or friends. This program advises comforters not to bring up religion unless the patient does, but a spiritual dimension could be added. Most patients served are elderly, having outlived friends and relatives, or have been abandoned by or alienated themselves from family. Clarke says, "It's not our time to judge." A how-to guide for hospitals wanting to start their own program is available.

 

Inara Verzemnieks

 

inarav@newsoregonian.com

 

The Value of People

"What did Jesus know that enabled him to do what he did? [horizontal ellipsis]. He knew the value of people. He knew that each human being is a treasure. And because he did, people were not a source of stress, but a source of joy."-In the Eye of the Storm

 

Max Lucado

 

Pass It On

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that in 2003, U.S. nursing schools were unable to admit 11,000 qualified applicants-a dramatic increase from 2000 when 5,000 were turned away. Almost two-thirds of nursing schools reporting indicate faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting qualified applicants into BSN programs. Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow, a coalition of nursing and health care organizations working to attract people to nursing, is launching a media campaign, concentrating primarily within the profession, focusing on the nursing faculty shortage. The campaign, "Nursing Education- Pass It On," will use first-person testimonials by volunteer nursing faculty that include the joy of passing on the knowledge and practice of nursing and being able to influence the future practice of nursing. It's anticipated that two million nurses and nursing students will be reached with the campaign.-Margaret Hawke, Nursing Spectrum, March 8, 2004

 

The Future Is Now

 

* Shift bidding over the Internet is a new tool hospitals are using to attract nurses. They save labor costs by using fewer outside RNs while letting their own nurses control when they work and how much they earn. Since 2001 St. Peter's Hospital, Albany, NY, has filled more than 127,000 hours and saved more than $1.7 million through online bidding. Its overall RN vacancy rate dropped to five from eleven percent. Other hospitals have had similar results. -Alicia Chang, Chicago Tribune, January 13, 2004

 

* eICU, a cutting-edge form of telemedicine, is trying to keep patients and caregivers out of trouble in a number of multi-hospital health systems, such as Chicago's Advocate Health Care. Experienced ICU RNs work in an office in Oak Brook, IL, and have access to a wide range of high-tech tools within the eICU system, designed by VISICU, Inc. Two RNs monitor 110 ICU beds at four Advocate hospitals 24/7, with MD coverage noon to 7 a.m.

 

Virtual rounds start the shift on as many as 55 patients.Red patients are checked hourly, yellow q. 2 hours, and green are stable, ready to be discharged from ICU. Two-way microphones can be turned on to communicate with patient, caregiver or families. If a video assessment of the patient is done, a bell rings, alerting the nurse. Most staff and families welcome the extra set of eyes evaluating data and the patient.-Josie Howard-Ruben, Nursing Spectrum, January 12, 2004

 

CPR in for a Big Change?

U.S. urban medical directors are leading a move to advise 911 callers to do simple chest compressions to mimic a steady heartbeat instead of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. They say research in Seattle and Richmond, VA, suggests it will save many lives. For now, the advice applies to untrained bystanders, the group most likely to reach victims in the first critical minutes. Trying to talk callers through mouth-to-mouth procedures was doing more harm than good because it wasted time. The American Heart Association is considering similar changes to its guidelines, but a decision is not expected until 2005. In the meantime, the switch is well on its way to becoming standard practice.-Robert Davis, Pensacola News Journal, February 29, 2004

 

Iraqi Nurses Need Books

From U.S. Army Capt. Robert Heath, Battalion Surgeon/Medical Officer for the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 508th Infantry of the 173rd Airborne Division: "The local Iraqi physicians and nurses are quite intelligent and capable. However, they are ill-equipped after years of neglect by Saddam Hussein. They do not have access to much current medical literature. Any textbooks and journals you could send would be greatly appreciated, the sooner the better. I can immediately put them in the hands of the local nurses." Nursing and other textbooks, journals and magazines can be sent via regular mail to: Capt. Marlin Payne, 1-14 IN, 2BCT, APO AE 09347-9998.-Nursing Spectrum, February 9, 2004

 

Surprising Stress Busters

You can be on the road to relaxation faster than you think!!

 

* Breathing bonus. 15 minutes a day of deep breathing can lower blood pressure, according to a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension. Inhale deeply as you slowly raise your shoulders to your ears, letting them sink down away from your ears. Do this five times.

 

* Pain-in-the-neck prevention. Lie face-up and gently lift your head, then lower it for three sets of 20 repetitions three times a week.

 

* Petal power. Stop stress before it starts. Fill your office with flowers, particularly colorful ones such as gerbera daisies. Or plant a pot of African violets or chrysanthemums for a stress reliever with blooms that last longer.-Alison Stein Wellner, Ladies' Home Journal, February 2004