Our Nurse of the Week is Deborah Kaplan, the director of nursing and health services for Raleigh County Schools. Kaplan was recognized by the Highmark Foundation for “Advancing Excellence in School Nursing.” The foundation awarded Kaplan the School Nursing Practice and Leadership award in honor of her demonstration of leadership in school health and qualities of care and compassion.
Kaplan has more than 35 years of nursing experience. She started her career as a floor nurse at an area hospital and has served in a number of capacities in the hospital setting, including outpatient surgery and quality improvement nurse management. She heard about school nursing from a colleague and grew interested in pursuing a job as a school nurse before finally joining the Raleigh County School system when a job became available in 1997.
As health care challenges have grown over the decades, so has the need for more nurses, especially in schools. Over the course of her career, Kaplan has advocated for more nurses in the school, and the board office supported the effort. There are now 14 school nurses throughout the county, and most nurses oversee two schools each. Kaplan has also provided “Stop the Bleed” training for school nurses and staff in case of an active shooter and applied for grants to get emergency medical supplies in each school in the county.
The Highmark Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health, well-being, and quality of life for individuals and communities throughout the areas served by Highmark Inc. To learn more about Raleigh County Schools Director Deborah Kaplan who was recognized by the Highmark Foundation for excellence in nursing, visit here.
Earlier this week, over 1,000 North Carolina nurses and nursing students met with state lawmakers to lobby on behalf of their patients. These discussions were part of the North Carolina Nurses Association’s 2019 Nurses Day at the Legislature. School nurses and the SAVE Act (a bill that would provide advanced practice registered nurses with more practice authority) were among the issues discussed.
Before meeting with legislators, the nurses and students
gathered for an advocacy-themed continuing education program to hear Dr. Ernest
Grant, president of the American Nurses Association, deliver the keynote
address, which included notes about why the SAVE Act is crucial for North
Carolina nurses and patients.
“In some cases, a nurse may have to wait on a physician signature or something like that in order to provide the healthcare for a patient- something they can easily sign for themselves and be on to the next patient, if you will,” Grant shared with the crowd.
As ABC11’s Andrea Blanford reported, North Carolina’s rural areas are currently experiencing a shortage of both nurses and physicians, which is why these issues are particularly crucial right now to all healthcare providers across the state. Luckily, the nurses and students already had the ears of a few legislators, like Rep. Gale Adcock. Rep. Adcock has been a family nurse practitioner for 32 years and is one of three nurses in the General Assembly.
In fact, Adcock
introduced one of the pieces of healthcare legislature that the nurses rallied
for. The bill would ensure every school in North Carolina will have at least
one nurse, as schools currently are experiencing their own nursing shortages.
“There are many districts where nurses have three and four schools they have to cover and that’s untenable,” Adcock said.
Besides advocating for nurses and patients across the state,
the North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA) provides resources to advance
nursing practice and education. The NCNA hosts the Nurses Day at the Legislature
every other year.
Our Nurse of the Week is Lexi Brown, a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse at New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) in Wilmington, NC. After being born as a NICU baby during a blizzard, Brown later worked her first shift as a NICU nurse during Hurricane Florence.
Brown was born premature during a blizzard and spent the first six weeks of her life in the NICU. When a blizzard dumped four feet of snow in the area a week after she was born, the governor declared a state of emergency, preventing her parents from visiting her for several days. Her own birth story inspired Brown to become a NICU nurse, and she relived a similar situation 23 years later when Hurricane Florence required the governor to call for a state of emergency, leading to a 135-hour marathon shift that kept her at NHRMC for six days straight.
Brown’s stay in the NICU as an infant was difficult for her parents who couldn’t get to her until the blizzard passed. They had to turn her life over to the nurses who were caring for her, and hearing her parents talk about the care her nurses provided inspired Brown to want to become a NICU nurse herself.
Brown was scheduled to work her first official shift as a NICU nurse on September 12, two days before Hurricane Florence hit, and two days after Governor Roy Cooper had declared a state of emergency. Her parents couldn’t be more proud to see her back in the NICU now, this time as a nurse serving other vulnerable families.
Brown tells WECT.com, “Just having my parents’ perspective from it all makes me pay more attention to parents. I have the baby as my patient but the parents are just as important. Just focusing on how they feel and making sure that they know that they’re still great parents even though they couldn’t be there.”
To learn more about NICU nurse Lexi Brown whose family’s experience during her stay in the NICU as an infant inspired her to become a NICU nurse later in life, visit here.
Robeson Community College’s new nursing program was recently approved by the North Carolina Board of Nursing, ahead of its start in summer 2019.
RCC’s Paramedic to RN Bridge program is designed for paramedics to obtain an Associate Degree in Nursing. This program allows paramedics to study for three years at Robeson; Robeson ADN recipients can continue studying at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke for another year to earn a Bachelor Degree in Nursing.
Interest in the program, including 5,000 hits on Facebook alone, has been steady — no doubt reflecting a need for this nursing education need in North Carolina. Eva Meekins, Nursing Department Director at Robeson Community College, tells The Robesonian, “We are one of the few schools in the state that offer a paramedic to ADN program. We don’t have the capacity to meet the demand.”
The bridge program is set up so students can get certified as paramedics through Robeson and start their medical careers, earning and saving money. This will provide the financial freedom some students need to continue pursuing their education. And though many people are interested in joining the new nursing program at Robeson, there will still be plenty of local paramedics who continue their careers without pursing a nursing degree.
For more information about Robeson Community College and its new Paramedic to RN Bridge program, click here.
The NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing has received $3.47 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to improve the oral hygiene of people with mild dementia. The five-year grant from the NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and National Institute on Aging will be used to implement and study a unique oral health intervention involving family caregivers in New York and North Carolina.
NYU Meyers’ Bei Wu is the principal investigator on the project, assisted by co-principal investigators Brenda Plassman from Duke Health and Ruth Anderson from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
People with dementia usually have significantly poorer oral health than other older adults, including more plaque, cavities, severe gum disease, and fewer teeth. Individuals with mild dementia are at a higher risk of poor oral health and research suggests inadequate oral hygiene practices are to blame.
The researchers developed an intervention to help family caregivers guide people with mild dementia in carrying out oral hygiene. The intervention is designed to work with the caregiver and individual with mild dementia to identify challenges in oral care and improve the ability of the person with dementia to engage in effective oral care. Thanks to the NIH funding, the research team will conduct a randomized controlled trial in New York City and North Carolina to test the oral health intervention.
To learn more about NYU Nursing’s recent $3.47 million grant from the NIH to improve oral health in people with dementia, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Careen Rodgers, a registered nurse employed by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), who packed her bags and headed south after seeing the extensive havoc that Hurricane Florence wreaked on the Carolinas. Rodgers was one of 22 nurses from the VDH who joined forces with the North Carolina Department of Health to set up shelters along the coast.
Rodgers’ volunteer stint became a 10-day trip after she found herself in Raleigh, North Carolina along with members of the National Guard and others nurses, totaling over 1,000 emergency response personnel. Rodgers joined a team of nurses bound for New Bern, one of the hardest hit areas. She was posted at a shelter at Trent Park Elementary School. The school itself didn’t receive extensive damage from the storm but the nearby residents who fled to the safe location weren’t so lucky. Many swam in the dark to get to the shelter due to extensive flooding.
Many of the injuries treated at Trent Park weren’t life-threatening. Rodgers helped administer basic first aid, but recalls the importance of providing emotional support to her patients as well, many of whom were escaping flooded homes and devastating damage.
Rodgers tells MartinsvilleBulletin.com, “Our role was basic first aid. We cared for minor cuts and bruises, but we were also there providing emotional support. We weren’t just caring for the outside injuries, but the inside injuries. You think about a nurse tending to a wound, but there’s a lot more that we do…It was all about helping people at a basic level of humanity.”
To learn more about Careen Rodgers and her generous efforts in helping survivors of Hurricane Florence, visit here.