Nurse of the Week: Seattle Nurse Karin Huster Says Battling Ebola Outbreaks in Africa Is “The Best Job in the World”

Nurse of the Week: Seattle Nurse Karin Huster Says Battling Ebola Outbreaks in Africa Is “The Best Job in the World”

Our Nurse of the Week is Karin Huster, a Seattle-based nurse and field coordinator for Doctors Without Borders. Huster spends six to 12 weeks at a time away from home, helping the world’s most vulnerable populations. Most recently she was in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) helping battle Ebola outbreaks.

Even though she regularly encounters dying patients, Huster tells, “It’s the best job in the world. And I don’t mean this lightly…My goal in life is nothing else but to try to improve people’s lives.”

Ebola has killed over 2,000 individuals and sickened almost 3,000 individuals in the DRC since August 2018. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency in July 2019 while Huster was on her fourth trip there.

Helping those in need has been Huster’s dream since she was a child. She grew up on Réunion Island, a French island in the Indian Ocean, and in 1991 she moved to Seattle for a job translating English to French for Microsoft. Feeling unfulfilled, she left her job at Microsoft to enroll in nursing school at the University of Washington (UW). She spent eight years as a nurse in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center before going back to UW to earn her master’s degree in global health. In 2012, Huster went to Lebanon on a trip with UW to work with Syrian refugees. It was there that she found her passion for traveling to help the world’s most vulnerable populations.

To learn more about Karin Huster, a Seattle-based nurse and field coordinator for Doctors Without Borders who considers her job battling Ebola outbreaks in Africa the “best job in the world,” visit here.  

Nurse of the Week: Critical Care Nurse Kayla Miller Performs CPR on Victims of Dayton, Ohio Shooting

Nurse of the Week: Critical Care Nurse Kayla Miller Performs CPR on Victims of Dayton, Ohio Shooting

Our Nurse of the Week is Kayla Miller, a critical care nurse from Dayton, Ohio who performed CPR on victims of the shooting that occurred early on the morning of August 4. Miller was fleeing the Ned Peppers Bar after hearing gunfire ringing out when she spotted victims who had been shot. Putting her own life in danger, Miller stopped to perform CPR on the wounded victims on the sidewalk.

Miller was at the Ned Peppers Bar celebrating a friend’s 25th birthday. As she was attempting to flee the scene for her own safety, she felt compelled to stop and help in any way she could. According to Miller, chaos ensued after hundreds of people in the area heard the shots.

Miller tells NBC’s TODAY, “I look down the sidewalk and see just a row of bodies. People shot, some alive, some not. I’m grateful to be able to be alive and talk to my family and friends and tell them I’m OK, but my heart breaks for these families.”

Nine people were killed in the shooting and 27 were injured after a 24-year-old opened fire outside the Ned Peppers Bar in the city’s popular Oregon district just after one o’clock in the morning. It was the second mass shooting in the United States in less than 24 hours, following a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas the day before that left 20 people dead.

To learn more about Kayla Miller, a critical care nurse who performed CPR on victims of the Dayton, Ohio shooting on August 4, visit here.

Nurse of the Week: Florida Nurse Carmen Roman Saves Driver After He Crashed Into Her Home

Nurse of the Week: Florida Nurse Carmen Roman Saves Driver After He Crashed Into Her Home

Our Nurse of the Week is Carmen Roman, a nurse from Kissimmee, FL, who helped to save a driver who stopped breathing and had no pulse after he crashed into her home. She initially thought she heard someone parking near her house, but then the minivan careened off the road and struck the side of her home.

Roman ran out of her house to assess the damage and found the driver unresponsive behind the wheel with no pulse and not breathing. Even though she was off the clock, she rushed in and began giving the man chest compressions. After 30 compressions he resumed breathing thanks to Roman’s actions.

Surveillance from her home showed the crash and how Roman jumped to action to help the save the man. Later in the video, he is seen walking after being removed from the wreck. It remains unclear what caused the man to crash and whether he will face charges.

Although her home suffered significant damage, Roman was happy to be able to help. She tells, “It feels awesome. My kids are so proud, they’re like ‘Momma’s a hero!’”

To learn more about Carmen Roman, a nurse from Kissimmee, FL, who helped to save a driver who stopped breathing and had no pulse after he crashed into her home, visit here.

VA Nurse Gives a Family the Chance to Say Goodbye

VA Nurse Gives a Family the Chance to Say Goodbye

CPR in a restaurant on a woman not breathing

Here is just one story about how VA nurses excel in their occupation, on and off duty.

VA Nurse Karen Brodlo sat in a restaurant enjoying her dinner when she heard someone yell to call 911.

She looked up to see an elderly woman had collapsed and was not breathing. The woman was having dinner with her husband when the night took a turn for the worst.

Brodlo quickly jumped in action. As a VA nurse for 23 years and in the nursing field since 1969, it was second nature. She identified herself to the crowd as a nurse and assessed the situation.  Right away she noticed that the woman was positioned incorrectly.  She quickly made the adjustments and started to administer CPR.

She continued manual CPR process until the rescue team arrived. She then turned her focus to the husband who was nervous and scared for his wife’s well-being. She tried to calm him down as the rescue team continued to work to save the woman’s life.

She remembers the worst part being, not having the equipment she needed. She suggested to the restaurant after the incident that a general-use defibrillator would be a useful addition.  Just as most businesses have fire extinguishers, a defibrillator should also be a requirement. Just as easy to use, it’s better to have and not need it than to need it and not have it.

After much praise came her way for saving a life, Brodlo said, “I just did what was right. No accolades are needed for doing my job.”

The restaurant now gives her star treatment. The daughter of the woman she saved sent a bouquet of flowers along with a heartfelt thank you card calling Brodlo her mom’s “Guardian Angel.”

Brodlo is a nurse at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago.

As a caring nurse who adores her job, she followed up on the status of her honorary patient. Sadly, a couple of weeks after the incident, the woman passed away from further complications, but the family was overwhelmingly grateful.

The last days with any family member or loved one is crucial. If it wasn’t for the quick actions of nurse Karen Brodlo, they would have missed out on the opportunity to say their last goodbye.

This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.

10 Questions: Therese S. Richmond, PhD, CRNP

10 Questions: Therese S. Richmond, PhD, CRNP

Therese S. Richmond, PhD, FAAN, CRNP, associate dean for research and innovation at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, views nursing as “an exquisite opportunity” to help people when they are at their most vulnerable. There is nothing better than being a nurse, she told MedPage Today, explaining that even during her hardest days she reminds herself to “take a deep breath and be thankful for the honor of being a nurse.”

Richmond received her Masters in Nursing Science from Catholic University of America in the early 1980s, followed by a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania a decade later. Since then, she has spent much of her career using nursing science to prevent injury and violence and improve outcomes, particularly in patients from vulnerable urban populations worldwide.

Richmond was recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine and is also a member of the Federal Advisory Committee to the Secretary for National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2030.

In this installment of “10 Questions,” Richmond discusses the complexity of the U.S. healthcare system and what she sees as its most pressing issues.

1. What’s the biggest barrier to practicing nursing today?

The complexity of healthcare systems and the rapid movement of patients through acute hospitalization poses a significant challenge. Nurses need to get to know patients and families quickly, predict what their needs will be upon discharge, and prepare patients and families to provide complex care in the home.

As an injury researcher, I have found that psychological consequences surface after injury for a substantial subset of injured patients. Yet the symptoms of psychological reactions to injury do not surface until after discharge. We need to prepare patients to recognize symptoms of disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, so that patients and families recognize and attend to symptoms when they arise and know when and how to ask for help.

Nurses need to overcome the barriers erected by increasingly shortened hospital stays and help people know where to go to seek help — which is not easy in complex systems.

2. What’s the most important healthcare issue that nobody is talking about?

We continue to compartmentalize physical and psychological health. Today, we have systems that do not recognize the intersection of psychological and physical health. I am not speaking here about people with chronic serious mental health disorders (e.g., schizophrenia). Instead, I am talking about people who experience an acute illness (e.g., myocardial infarction) or injury (e.g., assaulted with a weapon).

A certain proportion of people with illness or injury will have symptoms of a psychological disorder emerge. While we are effective at treating the MI or the injury, we tend to be blind to the psychological responses — and even when we see these responses — in taking action. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that we predominately focus on a single episode of care. We do not fully take into account previous life experiences and exposures that can directly impact outcomes.

Think about what we know about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the profound impact ACEs have on morbidity and premature mortality. Even though we know this, we don’t typically address previous trauma exposures and consider how that will affect recovery or the emergence of psychological symptoms.

3. What changes, if any, will the Trump administration impose on medical practice?

I am currently a special government employee since I sit on the Federal Advisory Committee to the Secretary of DHHS for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and thus not in a position to answer this question.

4. What country do you think has a better healthcare system than the United States?

My previous response applies to this question as well, and thus I am not in a position to respond.

5. What is the most important piece of advice for students or providers just starting out today?

Maintain your passion and always remember the reason you entered nursing. Never forget the patient should be at the center of all we do.

6. Have you ever been afraid of a patient?

I have never been afraid of a patient. For the decades I worked in trauma and neurological critical care, there have been times that I have been in situations where behaviors are problematic. I always remind myself that if patients are acting out there is usually a physiologic, psychologic, or medication-related reason and I try to intellectually solve the puzzle of what is driving the behavior. I have found this approach is a useful strategy to address both the needs of the patient and to control any anxiety I may feel about a situation that seems to be spiraling out of control.

7. What is the most memorable research published since you became a healthcare provider and why?

I think in terms of a body of research — not just one study. As an injury and violence researcher, I think the most important is the body of research that has reduced death by motor vehicle crashes. We have learned a tremendous amount through research about cars (e.g., better, safer designs), behavior (e.g., driving while distracted, use of child safety seats, the importance of motorcycle helmets), and environment (e.g., highway design, pedestrian crossings).

As a result, we have been able to decrease death by motor vehicle a significant amount. The CDC counts this reduction in death from motor vehicle crashes as one of the top ten public health successes of the 20th century. This concerted effort required access to data, rigorous design of research studies, and a regulatory body able to institute new policies and standards based on solid science.

I am hopeful that in the future we can build a comparable body of research to reduce death by gun.

8. Do you have a favorite medical-themed book, movie, or TV show?

Can’t think of anything.

9. If you weren’t doing your current work, what do you think you would be doing today?

There is nothing better than being a nurse. Throughout the decades, I have had so many diverse opportunities to impact the lives of people and communities through my practice, my research, and my teaching. If I were not at Penn doing what I love best, I would see myself in a low-resource community trying to improve the health and well-being of those with the highest need. We have such disparities between those who have and those who have-not — it is highly disturbing. I would like to find a way to bring that into a more equal balance, which in the long-run will improve the health of all.

10. What is the biggest difference between your expectations of nursing practice when you graduated from nursing school and the reality?

There is a tremendous difference in what I expected and reality. I expected to provide high quality, knowledgeable, and skilled care to sick people. What I experienced is that at its core, nursing provides me an exquisite opportunity to touch people’s lives at a time that they are at their most vulnerable. This is a privilege afforded to me as a nurse that few others experience. During my hardest days, I take a deep breath and remember to be thankful for the honor of being a nurse.

This story was originally posted on MedPage Today.

North Carolina Nurses Lobby State Legislature for Healthcare Policies

North Carolina Nurses Lobby State Legislature for Healthcare Policies

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.  

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