In Geneva, a Wider Perspective on Clara Barton’s Humanitarian Vision

By Jean Johnson, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor and founding dean (retired) at the George Washington University School of Nursing, member of the Red Cross National Nursing Committee, and Linda MacIntyre, PhD, RN, chief nurse American Red Cross

To Geneva, Oct. 2-3: The Red Cross Mission Is International

Red Cross and Red Crescent Symbols Outside ICRC Museum, Geneva Red Cross and Red Crescent Symbols outside ICRC Museum, Geneva

The Clara Barton Study Tour was the idea and passion of Sue Hassmiller. As you may know from the most recent post in this series, Sue and her husband Bob were prevented from coming on this trip due to Bob’s tragic bicycle accident. Sue had insisted that Geneva needed to be part of the tour because it’s where she learned of Henri Dunant’s work to create the international Red Cross in Geneva. With Bob’s steady support in the planning phase, Sue had somehow made the trip a reality, with the second leg of the tour taking place here in Geneva.

The study tour in Geneva and the organizations we visited on our first two days there were in complete harmony with Bob’s commitment to the Red Cross. While Bob gave his time and energy to the American Red Cross, his spirit of giving clearly crossed international borders into war-torn cities where the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) brings humanitarian aid to victims of conflict—both to the civilian population as well as wounded fighters. The ICRC is led by the dynamic and caring director-general, Yves Daccord (in group photo below), who not only plans for current needs but looks to the future to plan for the future type of war that will be shaped by new technologies such as robots and artificial intelligence. […]

Quality: The Anonymous Superhero of Nursing

“Clark Kent has his Superman cape, while I have my spreadsheets of data and the ability to set goals and track them.”

This guest post is by Tasha Poslaniec. A registered nurse for 16 years, Tasha has worked in multiple areas, including obstetrics and cardiology. She currently works as a perinatal quality review nurse. She is one of the most viewed nursing writers on Quora, and has had essays published by the Huffington Post.

sm1018-0021In the world of comics, Superman’s alter ego is the incognito Clark Kent. But in fact, that nerdy, data-oriented, and unassuming reporter, whose mission is to “bring truth to the forefront, and fight for the little guy,” could very easily be a quality review nurse.

The comparison between the two might seem a stretch at first, but there are some parallels that are worth pursuing—especially in the context of understanding who and what your quality nurse is, what quality nurses do, and how Clark Kent’s mission isn’t far from quality nurses’ own motivation for what we do.

An anonymous nursing role.

First, let me put into perspective exactly how anonymous most quality nurses are. Do you know who works in your quality department? Do you know where your quality department is? Did you even know that you have a quality department? If you said no to all three of those questions, then I can relate. It was a little over a year ago when I first noticed a job posting in my hospital for a “Perinatal Quality Review Nurse.” As an OB nurse with over a dozen years of experience, I was intrigued, but I was also quite uncertain as to what the “quality review” part meant.

So I investigated. I had someone walk me to an office that I never knew existed, met people I’d never seen before, and slowly  became aware of a parallel universe full of terms, agencies, and processes. Who is responsible for compliance with the Core Measures? (I didn’t even really know they existed.) Who monitors the clinical quality of the physicians? (Quality nurses monitor the physicians?) What is the process for when a problem with the clinical quality is identified? The scales fell from my eyes and I was hooked. […]

October 11th, 2016|career, Nursing, nursing roles, patient safety|0 Comments

What Patients Told

By Marti Trudeau, RN, CPHQ, MPA, director, University City State Programs Office, BAYADA Home Health Care, Philadelphia

ky olsen/via Flickr ky olsen/via Flickr

I was anxious as I arrived at Mr. Johnson’s house. He was my first centenarian patient. He lived alone, taught Sunday school, and had no ailments. He didn’t need help, but his family thought he should occasionally have a nurse visit. After assessing this healthy man, I asked him, “What has helped you live so long?”

Surely he’d been asked this question many times, yet he thoughtfully answered, “Every morning I wake up, drink a large glass of water, then look in the mirror and smile.”

“You drink a glass of water?” I responded.

Listen to what I said, sweetie,” he answered.

I recall this because when patients called me “sweetie,” I would say, “Please do not call me sweetie, and feel free to call me Marti.” But I didn’t say anything to Mr. Johnson. I figured that at 101 years of age he could call me anything.

Weaving through my mind as I left were the words, “Every morning . . . water . . . ” Thus began my habit of drinking a large glass of water each morning—not exactly what he recommended, but what I heard at the time.

Through the years, patients told me many things.

Sometimes my effort to comprehend was rewarded with special messages. For example, following her stroke, Mrs. Larson could not utter a word, yet over the times we chatted I learned that her husband had died years ago, she had a son about whom she was very proud, and she was at peace. Each day she looked so happy. Her round face looked angelic as she sat in her wheelchair, properly dressed and primly listing to one side. […]

AJN in October: Oral Treatments for Breast Cancer, PAD in Older Adults, Research or Not Research, More

The October issue of AJN is now live. Here are some articles we’d like to bring to your attention.

CE Feature: A Review of Common Oral Treatments for Breast Cancer: Improving Patient Safety in Nononcology Settings

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 3 million women in the United States are currently living with a breast cancer diagnosis. Many seek care in nononcology settings for treatment, acute symptoms and complaints related to their cancer diagnosis, or unrelated concerns. Yet many nononcology providers are unfamiliar with the various oral agents used to treat breast cancer and their possible adverse effects and drug interactions. This article provides an overview of the most common oral treatments for breast cancer and discusses common adverse effects and management.

CE Feature: “Assessing Pain, Agitation, and Delirium in Hospitalized Older Adults

In the acute care setting, pain, agitation, and delirium (PAD) often occur as interrelated parts of a syndrome rather than as separate entities. Because the three facets of PAD may be similar in presentation, it is often difficult for clinicians to recognize the syndrome and to assess and treat it. The challenge is particularly great in older patients. This article provides an overview of each aspect of PAD, discusses clinical considerations related to the assessment and treatment of the syndrome in older adults receiving acute care, and illustrates the application of published PAD guidelines.

Perspectives on Palliative Nursing:For Advanced Cancer, What Treatment is Next?

This second installment in a series on palliative care developed in collaboration with the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, discusses how nurses can best serve patients faced with the choice between aggressive treatments and palliative or hospice care.


October 4th, 2016|Nursing|0 Comments

The Call to Service Is Personal: From Vietnam to Red Cross Volunteer

Sue and Bob Hassmiller. Photo courtesy of the American Red Cross. Photo courtesy of American Red Cross

This post was written by Bob Hassmiller the day before a serious bicycle accident, when he was looking forward to beginning the Clara Barton Tour. He did not make it to Geneva, and died two days after we published this post. The post shows the type of man Bob was—creative, thoughtful, caring, and committed to the Red Cross. We are publishing this post to honor Bob and Sue Hassmiller (pictured at right) and give voice to his commitment to the Red Cross.

Henri Dunant’s Awakening

Geneva is perhaps as beautiful and tranquil a spot as any on earth. We’ve looked forward to going there to explore how this unique city became the nexus between overwhelming disaster and the hope (and action) that alleviates that disaster.

Just as in the first part of the Clara Barton Tour, we learned that the ideals and actions of determined, caring, dedicated, and sometimes flawed individual like Clara Barton could result in the founding of a great humanitarian organization, the American Red Cross, so too do we review the efforts of her European contemporary Henri Dunant.

Henri Dunant at Solferino, pantier unknown Henri Dunant at Solferino, painter unknown, via Wikimedia Commons

As major military engagements go, the 1859 battle in Solferino, Italy, is now barely a footnote. Approximately 170,000 Austrians and their allies fought 150,000 combined Italian and French troops. A one-day battle, it left about 40,000 casualties and blocked the route of a young Swiss entrepreneur, named Henri Dunant, on his way with a business proposal to Napoleon. This Swiss neutral, like Clara Barton during the Civil War, threw himself into the overwhelming job of trying to organize local relief efforts and relieve the terrible suffering that confronted him. On that battlefield he became known to both sides as “the Gentleman in White.”

‘Would It Not Be Possible?’

Like Barton, Dunant not only cared personally for those who suffered, he worked tirelessly to help all others who suffered. In his book A Memory of Solferino, which he himself paid to publish, he asked:

“Would it not be possible in time of peace and quiet to form relief societies for the purpose of having care given to the wounded in wartime by zealous, devoted, and thoroughly qualified volunteers?”

And he further laid the basis for both the Geneva Conventions and the International Red Cross. He then sent his book to every major ruler in the world.

Great ideals are only successful when dedicated individuals sacrifice their time, talent, finances, and energy to put those ideals in action, as Dunant and others did in Geneva in 1863 to found the International Committee for the Relief of the Wounded. Dunant worked tirelessly to implement his vision and earned the very first Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

We will learn more about Dunant and the current work of the Red Cross as we visit the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Red Cross Museum, and the United Nations.

From Vietnam to Red Cross Volunteer

logo2For me, interest in this tour and the call to service is personal. My international military experience was bookended by experiences of the Red Cross. In 1969, I landed in Vietnam as a 22-year-old combat platoon sergeant and received what I would later learn was a comfort kit from a Red Cross worker. […]