Archive for the ‘public health nursing’ Category

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Working Out the Bugs: Old and Alone in the City

March 19, 2014

Amanda Anderson, BSN, RN, CCRN, works in critical care in New York City and is enrolled in the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing/Baruch College of Public Affairs dual master’s degree program in nursing administration and public administration. She tweets at @12hourRN.

Old Woman Dozing/Nicolas Maes

Old Woman Dozing/Nicolas Maes

At work the other day, after almost seven years as a nurse, I had an experience that completely floored me. While connecting a bag of cefepime to my tiny, elderly, blind patient’s IV, I spotted a cockroach making its way across her pillow. And then another on her lap. And then they were on the wall behind the bed, coming out of the closet where her belongings were stored. Another nurse had just handed her the pocketbook she’d requested, and the host of insects that apparently called it home were now scurrying quickly around the room, and around me.

I consider myself a fairly brave woman. I can kill a bug if I need to, I see rats quite frequently, and come on, I’m a nurse—there have been some pretty gory things to pass these eyeballs and touch these fingers. But this was different; it was not the hospital grossness that I am a seasoned veteran of. This was a glimpse into my patient’s dirty home. I ran like a little child.

When the situation had calmed down, I talked to my patient about her home, an apartment in Manhattan. How did she get around? How did she get food? She told me that her quest for survival had grown more challenging—that, with no family to care for her, she depends solely on Meals on Wheels, and that she might, after so many years, need to cave in to the pressure and move into an assisted living facility. Although, based on my assessment, she clearly qualified, no doctor had ever offered her a home health aide or visiting nurse.

Cockroaches aside, she is not the first elderly New Yorker I’ve cared for who has no web of support. Living precariously between the poles of health and complete collapse, many of them walk through the city streets for groceries, live on next to no money, and have very little reserve when sickness finally overturns their delicate homeostasis. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Nursing, HIV/AIDS, Continuity of Care, Treatment Advances, and the ACA: The Essentials

March 6, 2014

As the Affordable Care Act takes effect, a timely overview in AJN of recent developments in screening, treatment, care, and demographics of the HIV epidemic

CascadeofCare

The ‘cascade of care’ (from the AJN article)

The newly released March issue of Health Affairs is devoted to looking at the ways the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will affect Americans with HIV/AIDS and those who have recently been in jail. One crucial feature of the ACA is that it prevents insurance companies from refusing coverage to those with a number of preexisting conditions. If you have a preexisting condition and don’t get insurance through work, you know how important this is.

Unfortunately, a large majority of those with HIV and AIDS do not have private health insurance. One article in the March issue of Health Affairs draws attention to the plight of the 60,000 or so uninsured or low-income people with HIV or AIDS who will not receive health insurance coverage because their states are among those that have chosen to opt out of the ACA provision that expands Medicaid eligibility. This means many patients in these states may lack consistent care and reliable access to life-saving drugs.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) improves patient quality of life and severely reduces expensive and debilitating or fatal long-term health problems in those with HIV/AIDS. As noted in AJN‘s March CE article, “Nursing in the Fourth Decade of the HIV Epidemic,”

The sooner a patient enters care, the better the outcome—especially if the patient stays in care, is adherent to combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), and achieves an undetectable viral load.

The authors, pointing out that only 66% of those with HIV in the U.S. are currently “linked to care” and, of these, only about half remain in care, argue that

“[e]ngaging and retaining people with HIV infection in care is best achieved by an interdisciplinary team that focuses on basic life requirements, addresses economic limits, and treats comorbid conditions such as mental illness and hepatitis C infection.”

But there’s a lot more in this article about screening, advances in drug therapy, treatment, and epidemiology that all nurses will need to know as the ACA brings more HIV-infected patients into every type of health care setting. Here’s the overview, but we hope you’ll read the article itself, which is open access, like all AJN CE features: Read the rest of this entry ?

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AJN’s March Issue: New Series on Systematic Reviews, HIV Update, C. Diff on the Rise, Sexual Assault, More

February 28, 2014

AJN0314.Cover.OnlineAJN’s March issue is now available on our Web site. Here’s a selection of what not to miss, including two continuing education (CE) articles that you can access for free.

Advances in HIV testing and treatment. The photo on our cover, showing members of  Sexy With A Goal (SWAG), a program provided for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals affected by HIV and AIDS by the AIDS Service Center of New York City’s Lower East Side Peer Outreach Center, reflects the changing face of the AIDs epidemic. Thirty years ago, a diagnosis of HIV was tantamount to a death sentence. But the young men on our cover prove that this is no longer the case. With advances in treatment and patient advocacy, education, and support, HIV is now a chronic, manageable disease. A CE feature, “Nursing in the Fourth Decade of the HIV Epidemic,” discusses HIV epidemiology and policy in the United States, the HIV care cascade, advances in HIV testing and treatment, and how nurses can continue to have a positive impact on the HIV epidemic.

If you’re reading AJN on your iPad, you can watch a video describing one author’s early experience with an HIV-infected patient by tapping on the podcast icon on the first page. The video is also available on our Web site. A

New option for victims of sexual assault. Until recently, survivors of sexual assault were not entitled to a free medical forensic examination unless they reported the assault to law enforcement. The authors of “Giving Sexual Assault Survivors Time to Decide: An Exploration of the Use and Effects of the Nonreport Option,” March’s original research CE, studied the implementation of the new nonreport option, exploring its impact on survivors, the criminal justice system, and sexual assault nurse examiners. If you’re reading AJN on your iPad, you can listen to a podcast interview with the author by tapping on the podcast icon on the first page. The podcast is also available on our Web site.

New series on systematic reviews. Since the advent of evidence-based practice in health care, nurses and other clinicians have been expected to rely on research evidence to inform their decisions. But how does one uncover all the evidence relevant to a question? “Systematic Reviews, Step by Step: The Systematic Review: An Overview,” the first article in a new series from the Joanna Briggs Institute, provides a synopsis of the systematic review as a scientific exercise, and introduces nurses to the steps involved in conducting one. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Smoking, Nurses, Knowledge: We’ve Come a Long Way, But Not Far Enough

January 22, 2014

By Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN editor-in-chief

"Smoke break"/by sylvar, via Flickr

“Smoke break”/by sylvar, via Flickr

Back in the day, I remember riding in the car with my parents, both of whom smoked. My siblings and I used to jockey for the window seats so we could be near the fresh air streaming in.  And I recall holidays with visiting relatives when all the adults would sit in the living room smoking cigarettes. (Kent filter-tips for the women; Camels for the men.) And as kids, we used to “smoke” candy cigarettes. The ones that “puffed” when you blew into them were our favorites.

But I also recall getting older and not wanting to visit my Uncle Joe, a once tough New York City police detective, because he would just sit on the edge of his chair, leaning over a table and struggling to breathe. This made my dad quit cold turkey after he had a heart attack at age 48 and our family physician told him he could either keep smoking or quit and see his children get married. My mom quit when she was pregnant with my youngest sister, after the surgeon general’s report said smoking could harm the fetus.

Our parents were constantly telling us that they wished they’d never started (my dad began in the army, when cigarettes were standard issue for GIs), that it was a “dirty habit” and an expensive one—and “don’t forget Uncle Joe.” Their efforts paid off—neither I nor any of my six siblings smoke today. Ironically, while I repeated those same messages (bolstered with more clinical information) to my three sons, two of them took up smoking during adolescence. Fortunately, they did stop, but not from my efforts—their girlfriends (who later became wives) pushed them into quitting . Read the rest of this entry ?

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Predicting Who’ll Show Up: Research on Nurses’ Intentions to Work during a Public Health Crisis

December 16, 2013

By Sylvia Foley, AJN senior editor

Figure 1. Percentage of respondents indicating willingness to work during a flu pandemic according to self-reported perception of flu threat

During disasters and emergency situations, the public expects health care workers to show up and do their jobs. But this isn’t a given—there are always some who are either unable or unwilling to do so. So far, most of the research in this area has used convenience samples, hypothetical situations, or untested survey instruments, and very little has focused solely on nurses.

To learn more, Sharon Dezzani Martin and colleagues decided to explore further. This month’s original research CE, “Predictors of Nurses’ Intentions to Work During the 2009 Influenza A (H1N1) Pandemic,” reports on their findings. Here’s the abstract, which offers a brief overview.

Objective: This study examined potential predictors of nurses’ intentions to work during the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic.
Methods: A questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of 1,200 nurses chosen from all RNs and LPNs registered with the Maine State Board of Nursing during the second wave of the flu pandemic.
Results: Of the 735 respondents, 90% initially indicated that they intended to work during a flu pandemic. Respondents were significantly more likely to work if provided with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) but significantly less likely without adequate PPE or if they feared family members could become ill with pandemic flu. They were also significantly less likely to work if assigned to direct care of a flu patient; if a colleague were quarantined for or died of pandemic flu; if they feared Read the rest of this entry ?

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Worsening Global Health Workforce Shortage: What’s Being Done?

December 9, 2013
JM: photo emailed to you. Photo is of Frances Day-Stirk, president of the International Confederation of Midwives, and David Benton, CEO of the International Council of Nurses. Photo courtesy of Marilyn DeLuca, consultant, Global Health - Health Systems  and adjunct associate professor, College of Nursing, New York University.

Frances Day-Stirk, president, International Confederation of Midwives, and David Benton, CEO of International Council of Nurses. Photo courtesy of Marilyn DeLuca.

By Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN editor-in-chief

While it might seem—based on what we see in our own country—that there is no shortage of health care workers, there is indeed a global shortage and it’s only going to get worse. We reported on the global health workforce last year; new reports are revealing just how much worse things may get. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), by 2035 there will be a shortage of 12.9 million health care workers; currently, there is a shortage of 7.2 million.*

The shortage is being exacerbated by a confluence of occurrences:

  • the aging population is living longer and with more illness
  • noncommunicable chronic illnesses like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes are increasing worldwide
  • many undeveloped countries lack educational facilities for training new professionals
  • experienced health care workers migrate to developed countries for better working conditions and pay

Discussions focused on how nations individually and together can develop and strengthen the workforce to meet Millenium Development Goals and attain the goal of universal health coverage. The result was the Recife Declaration, a call to action detailing what needed to be done to address the problem, asking nations and organizations to commit to a goal of universal health coverage for all, and committing resources to develop the workforce to provide it.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the U.S.: An IOM Report

December 2, 2013


By Natalie McClain, PhD, RN, CPNP, clinical associate professor, William F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College, and Barbara Guthrie, PhD, RN, FAAN, Independence Foundation Professor of Nursing, Yale University School of Nursing. The above educational video was created by the Institute of Medicine and is available on YouTube.

Each day in the United States, minors experience abuse and violence that is overlooked and unidentified. In some cases, recognition of the abuse makes these minors subject to arrest rather than assistance and care. These children and adolescents are the victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. A recent report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Research Council sheds light on this serious domestic problem and underscores the critical role that nurses must play in preventing, identifying, and responding to these crimes.

Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States is the culmination of a two-year study conducted by an independent panel of experts appointed by the National Academies of Science and funded by the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The report states that commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors are acts of abuse and violence against children and adolescents. However, the response to these victims is often starkly different from that experienced by other victims of child abuse and neglect. In most states, for example, underage victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking can be arrested and prosecuted.

Long-term consequences; inadequate services. The report also notes that the consequences of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking are far-reaching and long lasting and include a range of mental and physical health problems. The committee found that there are too few services available to meet current needs of victims of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. In addition, “services that do exist are unevenly distributed geographically, lack adequate resources, and vary in their ability to provide specialized care to victims/survivors of these crimes” (IOM and NRC, 2013, p. 260).

This form of abuse and violence against children and adolescents is largely underreported. This is because identification of victims can be challenging. Once victims are identified, there are few service providers who are adequately prepared to assist and care for them. The report describes this and numerous other challenges faced by professionals in law enforcement, education, victim and support services, and health care who seek to prevent and identify these crimes and to assist their victims. It also provides clear guidance on and examples of strategies to increase awareness, strengthen laws, and advance knowledge and understanding.

Nurses are essential partners in preventing, identifying, and responding to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Two of the report chapters—Health and Health Care and The Education Sector—underscore the critical role of nurses as first responders in prevention, detection, and care of victims. Victims may seek out health care, thereby providing an opportunity for nurses in a range of settings to identify victims and survivors of this abuse. Read the rest of this entry ?

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AJN’s December Issue: Working During a Pandemic, HIV Foot Care, Healing Pet Visits, a Focus on Narrative

November 27, 2013

AJN1213.Cover.OnlineAJN’s December issue is now available on our Web site, just in time for some holiday reading. Here’s a selection of what not to miss.

Working during a pandemic. Flu season is in swing, but how do nurses feel about working during a flu pandemic? Researchers investigating terrorism and catastrophic events found that up to 96% of health care workers reported being unable or unwilling to work during some emergencies, with some infectious diseases associated with the highest rates of unwillingness. “Predictors of Nurses’ Intentions to Work During the 2009 Influenza A (H1N1) Pandemic,” December’s original research CE, suggests that providing adequate resources during an emergency (such as personal protective equipment) will not only ensure the safety of patients, nurses, and nurses’ families, but may also increase nurses’ willingness to work in times of crisis. Earn 2.5 CE credits by reading this article and taking the test that follows. If you’re reading AJN on your iPad, you can listen to a podcast interview with the author by clicking on the podcast icon on the first page of the article. The podcast is also available on our Web site.

HIV foot care. Peripheral neuropathy, which causes debilitating symptoms such as burning pain and sensation loss in the foot, continues to be prevalent in people with HIV, but is often overlooked. “HIV Peripheral Neuropathy and Foot Care Management” reviews what is known about distal sensory peripheral neuropathy in HIV patients, and provides nurses with information on its assessment and management. You can earn 2.5 CE credits by reading this article and taking the test that follows.

Hospital noise reduction strategies. The importance of maintaining a quiet, restful environment for patients has long been recognized by nurses. Our Cultivating Quality article, “Quiet at Night: Implementing a Nightingale Principle,” describes how nurses implemented a noise-reducing strategy in their hospital to provide patients with an optimal environment for care. Listen to a podcast interview with the author by clicking on the podcast icon on the first page of the article or downloading the podcast from our Web site.

Family pets in hospitals. Animal therapy for hospital patients can reduce stress and depression, and may aid in the healing process. “Family Pet Visitation” describes how nurses at one hospital instituted a pet visitation program to help patients feel more comforted and supported. Don’t miss the podcast interview with the author (click on the podcast icon on the first page of the article if you’re using your iPad, or visit our podcasts page).

Read the rest of this entry ?

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NP Develops Innovative Runaway Intervention Program in Minnesota

November 22, 2013

Ten years ago, NP Laurel Edinburgh began to see a number of sexually exploited girls in her practice at the Midwest Children’s Resource Center, a child abuse clinic within Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in St. Paul. The girls, who were runaways, were quickly slipping through the cracks. Half were no longer in school, many hadn’t been reported missing by their parents, and many were staying with gang members. Some had been gang-raped; others had had sex with men in exchange for money or drugs.

Via U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Web site

Via U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Web site

That’s the start of a profile (“Nurse Develops Runaway Intervention Program”) by editor Amy Collins in the November issue of AJN. It’s about a nurse practitioner in Minnesota who, in the course of her daily practice, noticed a population in need and did something about it, finding ways to establish contact with runaway girls and help them rebuild their lives. The article will be free until December 6. The nurse who started the program, Laurel Edinburgh, RN, CNP, hopes her approach will catch on in other states—so please give it a read.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

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Scrubs on the Street: Big Concern?

November 20, 2013
This colorized 2005 scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicted numerous clumps of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, commonly referred to by the acronym, MRSA; Magnified 2390x. CDC/via Wikimedia Commons

This colorized 2005 scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicted numerous clumps of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, commonly referred to by the acronym, MRSA; Magnified 2390x. CDC/via Wikimedia Commons

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Last week I came across this article on the Reporting on Health blog from the Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism at the University of Southern California. It discusses one woman’s campaign to get hospital health care providers to stop wearing scrubs outside of the hospital. She wants people to photograph the ‘offenders’ and send the photos to hospital administrators. She’s concerned that the clothing will pick up infection-causing bacteria in the community and spread infection to weak, immunocompromised patients.

Wearing uniforms outside of the clinical setting has been debated on and off for years. Here’s an excerpt from an editorial comment that appeared in the March 1906 issue of AJN (you can read the full article for free as a subscriber):

AJNArchiveExcerptNursesonStreet

So again, the concern was about bringing bacteria into the environment of sick people. Recently, though, the concerns have evolved to include as well the reverse scenario: bringing resistant hospital bacteria home. (See a nurse’s follow-up post at Reporting on Health for a good summary of some current issues.)

As one person quoted in the initial post about this idea of “outing” people in scrubs outside the hospital points out, evidence remains inconclusive on whether bacteria on clothing is at play in causing infections. (One of its links includes a 2007 evidence review that notes the following: “The hypothesis that uniforms/clothing could be a vehicle for the transmission of infections is not supported by existing evidence.”) Aside from our pretty universal agreement as to the need for the strict compliance observed in the OR, how concerned should we be about hospital personnel wearing uniforms from home to hospital and home again, perhaps doing errands along the way?

I asked AJN’s infection control consultant, Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC, about any recommended standards around this. She replied, “There’s just the AORN standards for OR wear. We long ago stopped worrying about leaving our work shoes in our lockers; and I think, despite the periodic microbiologic surveys of ties, coat sleeves, etc., the general idea still is that no links have been shown between organisms on clothing and the spread of infection.”

However, she further notes the following: “I always tell nurses that the first thing they should do when they get home is get out of their uniforms before hugging kids or the dog. I suspect the risk is bigger in this direction—more superbugs likely to be riding home with us than riding into the hospital with us.”

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