Nurse blog: Putting out fires and controlling traffic
I am not a bedside nurse. I am not a manager or director or nursing administrator. I am a clinical coordinator (aka house supervisor), and every day, I contribute to the ethical and quality care we provide to our patients. Let me take you through what can be described as an ordinary day.
At 0700, I receive a report from the night shift clinical coordinator. We are barely finished when a surgeon calls to say he needs to take a patient with a hot appendix from the emergency department (ED) to surgery. I call in the surgery team, including anesthesia and central service. I then hear a stroke code called overhead. I rush to room 10 in the ED just as paramedics bring in a patient who has screened positive for signs of stroke. I start the stroke protocol and assist the nurse in getting the patient to Radiology.
Once the stroke patient is on their way and I have secured a bed for another patient going to the Progressive Care Unit, the 6th floor calls in need of a special catheter that is only found in the urology room in the operating room (OR). I go up to Surgery and gown up so I can enter the sterile environment. As I locate the supplies, my phone rings to notify me that the comfort care patient on the 5th floor has passed away. I drop off the catheter to 6 and head to 5 to speak with the nurse and family there. I call the coroner and the funeral home. The family tells me how special their loved one was and how much they are going to miss them. I listen and offer my deepest sympathy.
My phone rings again and a family member of a patient on the Progressive Care Unit wants to discuss her daughter’s recent experience. I listen for the next 45 minutes as she expresses her frustration that her sick daughter, a freshman in college, must stay in the hospital. I explain the reasons for our hospital rules and educate her on some of our protocols. I try to place myself in her shoes to better understand the situation.
It is now just two hours into my 12-hour shift, and along with what I have already recounted, there have been five new admissions to the hospital. Two of the nursing units are now full.
The daily safety huddle and bed meeting occur mid-morning. I meet with charge nurses, patient placement nurses and others to discuss the current patient census and staffing needs. The meeting is conducted with mutual respect and collaboration.
As the day marches on, I respond to a call for a patient requiring immediate attention and help move her to the ICU. There I find a combative patient and help to calm him down. A trauma code is called in the ED, and I assist with the recording of the events. I go with the physician to tell the family that their child, who was hit by the car, did not make it. No dry eyes here. The mother grabs my hand and does not let go for a long time.
From starting an IV to finding medical records after hours, my work is done to ensure that our patients have the best experience possible and receive the excellent care that they deserve. As clinical coordinators, my fellow nurses and I strive to put out the fires and control the traffic in order to have the best patient outcomes.
Peggy Watkins has been a nurse at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center for over 30 years. She has worked in obstetrics, pediatrics, the emergency department and the nursing office. She enjoys spending time with her four children and their families as well as volunteering for Big Brother, Big Sister and participating in church activities.
About the Author
Peggy has been a nurse at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center for over 30 years. She has worked in obstetrics, pediatrics, the emergency department and the nursing office. She enjoys spending time with her four children and their families as well as volunteering for Big Brother, Big Sister and participating in church activities.