Holidays and Healthcare

What do the holidays mean to you? To most of you,  it means celebrating and making memories with loved ones.  Maybe, you will watch some football while devouring way too much food. Maybe, you will have a laugh with a good friend.  To most of the world,  holidays mean no deadlines to meet or  work obligations.  The holidays are simply a nice little break from reality with the perks of food, family, friends, and fun.

Unlike “most of the world”, healthcare workers do not always get these special days off. Instead of sleeping in on holiday mornings, they wake up before the sun rises so that they can get ready for their shift. They grab a quick shower and throw on their most festive scrubs while simultaneously guzzling coffee.  Staying home is not an option as they are the ones who will be taking care of people who need them the most.

These healthcare workers could be clocking in on this holiday shift to care for people who are elderly, sick, or too little to care for themselves. Maybe they will end up caring for someone who was involved in a car crash and having the worst day of their life. They could end up assisting a mother in active labor during the birth of her very first child. They could even be clocking in to administer chemo to a pediatric patient because cancer doesn’t pause for days off. Perhaps it is your loved one they may be caring for this holiday. These healthcare workers are selflessly sacrificing their own family time to take care of yours.

They were aware of these sacrifices before jumping into the healthcare profession, but they joined anyway. Why? Because working in the healthcare field is a calling. It takes a truly dedicated person to put others first. Unlike a fast food chain, one cannot simply clock out and flip a sign over that says “closed for the holidays”. Caring for people cannot be put on hold. Therefore, there will always be a healthcare worker missing their family on any given holiday to ensure another family is being taken care of.

So this holiday season, when you are with your loved ones enjoying a meal, take a moment to give a special thanks to our dedicated healthcare workers. A small gesture could go a long way and make a healthcare workers day a little brighter.

 

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Winter Time Blues

Sometimes I get this uncontrollable urge within me to write. It is as if the atmosphere is calling out to my soul and whispering what to put on paper. Words just flow out seamlessly.

Photo/Poem Credit: Cooky Wright,2013IMG_4129-001“I walk outside and gaze into the icy blue sky. The cool breeze brushes against my face sending a shiver up my spine. The feeling of emptiness intrigues my soul. My senses are suddenly awakened. The season when all the color fades and all that remains are lifeless memories delicately dancing in the wind. This death of nature is a rebirth of new things. An untold story awaiting to flourish at its darkest moment.” 

Every year at the start of the winter season, when the sun falls behind the horizon and all goes dark a little earlier than normal, I seem to be a little more in touch with my feelings. My heart opens up and pours out like a broken faucet with no emergency off valve. My insomnia kicks in and my days and nights can sometimes merge into one.

My brain doesn’t want to shut off, and my creative side starts to take over. I suddenly become full of emotions. My empathy for others is heightened. I avoid the news, as every sad story is intensified by ten. My heart aches for the world. Sometimes I will lie in bed and stare at the ceiling in the dark of night. It is as if I am waiting for the sun to return with its light and warmth to surround me like a warm blanket on a cold and lonely night.

During this time I always have to stop and remind myself that I am OKAY. I will make it through this somewhat bleak season. It is only temporary, and I try to use this time to pour my feelings onto paper.

It feels like this happens for no particular reason, but there could be a logical explanation. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is sometimes referred to as winter blues or seasonal depression. SAD is a mood disorder that can happen to people with no history of mental health disorders. People who suffer from SAD usually have no other depressive symptoms during the warmer seasons but will experience depressive symptoms during each winter season.

According to an article from Psychology Today, SAD is estimated to affect 10 million Americans. Women are four times more likely to have SAD than men. The estimated age of onset for SAD is between 18 and 30. The cause of SAD is unknown. It is thought to be related to the amount of melatonin produced by the body in relation to the exposure of sunlight each day. Fluctuating serotonin levels are another theory used to explain the possible cause of SAD.

Symptoms to look for include but are not limited to: feelings of sadness, hypersomnia, weight gain, decreased energy levels, social withdraw, and fatigue.
Risk factors for SAD include family history of depression and living far away from the equator.

Treatment options vary depending on severity of symptoms. A Doctor should always be consulted for medical advice and evaluation to rule out other possibilities before starting a treatment plan.
A mild case of SAD may show decreased symptoms from treatment as simple as light therapy. Light therapy is the exposure to an artificial light source via a light box. Artificial light exposure is said to work as a substitute for sunshine, which is known to decrease SAD symptoms. Light boxes can easily be purchased online. A Doctor may prescribe medications and/or counseling if other therapies are not improving the symptoms of SAD.

I get though the winter blues by staying active, getting enough rest, avoiding triggers, knowing when to consult a doctor, talking about it, remaining socially active, and reminding myself this is temporary. I try to remain as positive as possible.

I was hesitant to write this piece as I only suffer slightly with the “winter blues”, and I have no official diagnosis. After further research on the subject, I decided to put this blog together. I am sadden by the stigmas in our society associated with mental health. SAD is nothing to be ashamed of. Mental wellness should always be a top priority and treated with the same amount of dignity as any other medical issue. If you feel that you or a loved one may be suffering, please seek medical council.

seasonal depressionPhoto Credit: Medscape/Google Earth

For more information on SAD visit seasonalaffectivesupportgroups.com

Resources:
https://www.nimh.nih.gov
https://www.psychologytoday.com
https://medlineplus.gov
https://www.mayoclinic.org
https://reference.medscape.com

Hope for a Cure

What do you know about diabetes? That one can acquire it simply by indulging in an abundance of sweets? Our society has somehow managed to embed a preconceived notion into the minds of many people across the land, that all types of diabetes are the same.

In honor of diabetes awareness month I would like to share one family’s story in hopes to slash the stereotypical notions of diabetes while educating and spreading awareness. Below is their story.

Photo credit: Valerie Rupert BEF8828E-3C82-4567-A1CE-E5B70D35079BTabitha knew something wasn’t right when her son, Anthony, started acting out of character. She recalls the day that her family’s life was changed forever. Anthony, then only 21 months old, had been laying around, and Tabitha remembers that he had been having an abnormally high amount of wet diapers. Her motherly instincts and knowledge of her family medical history prompted her to take her son to her Aunt’s, whom happened to have a glucose monitor. Tabitha eagerly checked her son’s blood sugar, and the results only read  “high”. Puzzled, she double checked the machine for accuracy and quickly came to the realization that she had to get her son into the doctor immediately.  With her family by her side, Tabitha rushed little Anthony into the hospital. Only moments later, her worst fear was confirmed. Anthony’s blood sugar was critically high, reading 668. The doctor soon diagnosed  little Anthony with type 1 diabetes.

Anthony spent five days in the hospital. During that time, Tabitha and her family learned all about type 1 diabetes and how to care for Anthony. She discovered that the disease caused him to become insulin dependent and that his blood sugars will need to be monitored daily for the rest of his life.  She boasted that little Anthony had been a trooper throughout the whole hospital experience.  She recalls not wanting to go home because she was struggling with an array of emotions. She was fearful that she wouldn’t be able to monitor his diabetes properly. Accidentally sleeping through an alarm, missing a blood sugar check, or administer the wrong dose of insulin that would cause severe medical complications. Angry and confused, she blamed herself. Tabitha questioned if she could have done something differently to prevent this, but she was reassured by her son’s doctors that she could not have altered the outcome. Unlike type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes is not caused by diet, lack of exercise, or obesity. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder with no known cause; therefore, it cannot be prevented. This disease causes the immune system to attack the pancreas, which destroyes the cells that produce insulin. Most people with type 1 diabetes are diagnosed early on in life. According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, only %5 of the diabetic population are type 1. Which may explain why there are so many misconceptions regarding diabetes as a whole.

Now, almost 2 years after little Anthony’s diagnosis, Tabitha admits that everyday is still a struggle. As Anthony gets older, he is starting to fight during his blood sugar checks and insulin shots. His fingers and many injection sites are sore. She stated he has even ripped his insulin pump off. This makes managing Anthony’s diabetes somewhat difficult, but Tabitha says that she is learning to deal with the challenges that come along with his disease. She will fight for her son’s health until the day she dies. She wants people to know that her son, Anthony, is the strongest and bravest little boy she knows.

Tabitha wants to stress the differences in the types of diabetes and urges people to stop making this disease a joking matter. To her, diabetes is no joke. It is a matter of life and death. She is exhausted by stares and looks of confusion from strangers while she is out in public administering her son’s insulin shots. She feels judged, and sometimes it makes her upset but says it is hard for her to be angry at them as they may not understand the disease. People need to be educated on the subject.

In honor of Diabetes Awareness Month, I urge you to spread facts! Speak up and educate others about diabetes. Provide encouragement to those suffering, stay positive and remain hopeful for a cure in the future. Together we can shine the light on diabetes by creating awareness and understanding.

Content source: Centers for Disease Control and PreventionContent source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventio

 

Moving up with Maxim

maura2One of the things that separates Maxim Healthcare Kentuckiana from other healthcare companies is that there is potential for growth within the company. I wanted to get the inside scoop of how this was possible. I decided the best way to do so was to seek out a nurse from our Jeffersonville office for a quick Q&A.

I spoke with Maura Roll, an alumni of University of Louisville. Maura graduated in 2008 as a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. Maura and I discussed how her career has evolved with Maxim during her 5+ years of commitment with the company. Maura started out at Maxim in 2012 as a field nurse and has moved her way up to Clinical Operations Specialist. To give some insight on her success within the company of Maxim, I have provided the conversation between Maura and I.

Q: “Why did you choose Maxim as your place of employment?”
A: “Maxim provided the type of nursing I was looking for- personalized pediatric home care and the ability to grow within the company.”

Q: “How did you end up in the position you are in today, and how long did it take to get into that position?”
A: “I started as a field nurse in August 2012 and continued to work in the home for 2 years. A supervisory position was always interesting to me, as I worked with the supervisors during recertification visits. I was really enjoying my work as a field nurse but also wanted to develop myself and my career within Maxim. As a field nurse, I began to highlight my nursing skills, commitment, and expertise to the office staff. I rarely called off work, communicated well with the recruiters, and I demonstrated leadership in the home. So when I applied for a Clinical Supervisor opening in September 2014, I was ready for the challenge. I worked as a supervisor for 3 years, and have recently acquired a new title of “Clinical Operation Specialist.” I’m now focusing on referral intake, admissions coordination, and staff development.”

Q: “In order, what was your career path with Maxim like?”
A: “Field nurse, Clinical Supervisor, Clinical Operations Specialist.”

Q: “What were some of the positive things you remember as a home health nurse?”
A: “I love home health!!!! To me, it’s a very intimate type of nursing, one in which I felt like I was helping people live to their fullest potential. It is REWARDING. One of my first full time clients was a one year old who had underwent a total bowel, pancreas, and liver transplant. He was trach and ventilator dependent. My care helped him graduate Maxim services! He no longer has a trach and breathes independently on his own. Home nursing truly makes a difference. Home care makes me use my skills and critical thinking each and every day. The environment is more relaxed and the learning is ongoing.”

Q: “When you chose to work at Maxim, were you aware of the opportunities for growth within the company?”
A: “I wanted to be a supervisor from day one. I made that known to my supervisors in the interview process. They told me that Maxim prefers to hire and promote from within. My manager and supervisor both started as field nurses. Our Area Vice President of Clinical Operations also started as a field nurse.”

Q: “When you first started at Maxim, did you have any idea that one day you would be in the position you are today?”
A: “It was my goal. I just worked really hard to make it a reality. As my growth continues, my goals evolve as well.”

Q: “How did you get the opportunity to progress into a higher position within the Maxim team?”
A: “Hard work. I highlighted my expertise and commitment to the company and our patients. I provided high level care and high level communication.

Q: “Were there any road blocks or triumphs you had to overcome while transitioning into your new roles?”
A: “Transitioning to a new role is always challenging. When I became a supervisor, I was no longer responsible for just one patient, I was responsible for 27! As the Clinical Operations Specialist, I am learning so much every day. My role as a clinician has also taken on a business perspective. It’s new and very interesting. I just keep asking questions and understanding more about home care. My favorite part of this new role is bringing our patients home with the care they need, especially pediatrics, which is my personal favorite and passion. We help so many families and there are so many more out there that need our help. I’m thankful that I get to be a part of that.”

In addition to her career in Nursing, Maura is also a loving mother of 3 children. In the years I have known Maura through working at Maxim, she has always been a great resource for the team. She has always went above and beyond to make myself and others feel welcome and is always there to answer any questions no matter the hour. Through her success within Maxim, Maura has shown me that anything is possible with perseverance and a positive mind set. By working hard and striving to reach her personal goals, she made that happen. Maxim is truly a better company with Maura on the team, and we are very thankful for her.

Finding My Confidence

I still remember my first shift going solo as a new nurse. A green 21 year old starting my career as a brand new nurse. After shift report, a seasoned nurse handed over the keys; a symbol that I was now in charge of thirty-four patients and two CNA’s. I stood there, very still, trying to take it all in. I looked down the cold, dark hallway and felt very alone embarking on this new journey. Looking for insight and wisdom, I turned to the seasoned nurse, and she could see the uncertainty in my eyes. “You got this!” She said as she embraced me in a hug. “We all have to start somewhere. You will do great.”

As she disappeared out of the front door, I sat there stunned for a few minutes.  I began to organize my thoughts and long list of tasks that must be completed in an 8 hour shift. Then, call lights started buzzing. The shift officially began. The night shift RN that I would be working along side was not fond of working with yet another new nurse. I was getting the cold shoulder from her immediately and realized I was on my own.

So, off I went passing meds, bandaging wounds, correcting critical blood sugars, collecting labs, and charting until my fingers grew calluses. Literally running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I was literally on my own. I felt as if I had no support. No one to turn to for questions. As the overwhelming night progressed, some of the self doubt started to fade. With one task merging into another, I hadn’t eaten lunch and my only break consisted of sitting at the desk to chart. Finally, the night came to an end. It felt as if I crammed one thousand tasks into a drop of time. My head felt as if it could explode at any moment. I eagerly gave report to the oncoming nurse and instantly felt relief. After my shift ended, swiping my badge to clock out never felt so good! I bolted to my car. For the first time all day I was able to breath in a sweet sigh of relief. I had officially made it through my first night alone as a new nurse.

As the time went on, I made a few mistakes and learned some very valuable lessons. I vividly remember the first time I administered a wrong medication during a hectic shift. As soon as I realized what I had done, I sucked up my pride and sought out help from the RN that had given me the cold shoulder.

As I walked up to her with my tail tucked between my legs, I told her what I had done. I was shaking nervously. I was scared for my patient’s wellbeing.  I felt ashamed and embarrassed of the mistake I had made. She quickly took me under her wing and respected my honestly. We took the necessary steps to rectify the situation. The patient was fine. The outcome: a lesson was learned, respect was earned, and a friendship was made.

In that role I learned many valuable things. By swollowing my pride and reaching out to my fellow nurses, I was able to learn an array of skills. I learned how to administer IV fluids and how to correctly flush picc lines. A seasoned nurse walked me through my first blood draw and assisted in starting an IV line. I learned how to unclog g-tubes, insert ng tubes and how to insert a catheter, just to name a few. After many agonizing phone calls, I learned quickly when it is and is not appropriate to contact a doctor  after hours.

Only a few months into my nursing career, I lost my first patient. A patient on comfort measures only. I still remember it like it was yesterday. I had a feeling of defeat because I could do nothing to help. With a frog in my throat, I tried to muster up the courage to call the family to deliver the unsavory news. I made the dreaded call with a crackle in my voice and a tear in my eye. The shrill that came from the other end of the phone sent a shiver up my spine. With a seasoned CNA’s by my side,  postmortem care commenced. I tagged the patient’s  toe, zipped up the body bag, and the coroner wheeled them out to the hearse. They don’t prepare you enough for that in nursing school, but these are the things that make a nurse strong!

After I outgrew that position I decided to spread my wings to a more critical role. I applied for a job at a long term acute care hospital and was offered the position. There I would have an abundance of very sick patients. Very skilled patients. For some of them, this Hospital was there last option as no one else would take them. There I cared for a variety of patients. Some right out of  surgery, some on ventilators and cardiac monitors and a variety of wounds. Oh what an adventure it was!

It was there that I really put my critical thinking and nurse training to good use! I called/witnessed more codes than I care to remember. It was there that  I provided CPR for the first time. With the help of my coworkers I was able to learn crucial skills and became proficient in assessing my patients and identifying abnormalities to report to the doctors. After becoming comfortable in my skills, I was able to slow down and actually take some time to show compassion to my patients. Dealing with someone when they are at their weakest and showing them empathy and also providing encouragement was very fuffilling and rewarding. I started to feel like I was actually making a difference. I became a great asset to the team, a true team player, and a strong leader. It was there that I really gained my confidence. It was there that I felt like I became the true definition of a nurse.

Throughout my nursing career, I have learned so much. I have felt emotions I didn’t know I would ever feel. I made friendships that will last a life time. I learned the true meaning of what I feel a nurse really is: compassionate, confident, caring, knows their limits, and when to ask for help.

At almost 30 years old, do I feel confident 100% of the time? No, and I am ok with that. What’s important is that I know when to ask for help. There will always be something new to learn in the ever changing healthcare community. There will always be challenges and obstacles. I may not always know the answer, but I am confident in the skills I have learned thus far. However, there will always be room for growth as a nurse, and that is one thing I can say I am 100% confident in!

CNA Spotlight

In the healthcare field, we have all heard the “CNA’s matter” spiel. CNA’s may not always feel like this is a true statement and sometimes may even question do they really matter?

As a former CNA, and now a nurse of 8 years, I am here to tell you they do! Having worked in the field as both, I know that CNA’s play a crucial role in caring for our clients. CNA’s are the nurse’s eyes and ears and sometimes are the first person to identify when something is wrong with the client. They have the ability to help doctors and nurses identify an issue in a timely manner, which in return can save a life!

I would like to take a moment to talk about a CNA at Maxim Healthcare who truly does matter, Grenisha Kinnison. Grenish has been a CNA for 17+ years in a variety of health care settings. In 2016 alone, Grenisha was awarded Caregiver of the month, caregiver of 3rd quarter, and CNA of the year.

I sat down with Grenisha for a quick Q&A. Immediately I could feel through her presence and the smile on her face that she truly loves what she does.

When asked what things she has learned as a CNA in the home health settings, Grenisha replied, “It is not only about client’s needs but it is about the family members who are involved as well.” Together we discussed how compromise and flexibility with patient care and home activities play a big role in success in this field.

I asked Grenisha if she felt as if she played an important role in the lives of our clients, in which she replied, “Even the smallest things such as cooking a meal or taking the client outside for a few minutes can make their day.” We discussed how healthcare workers can provide a sense of comfort to the clients and sometimes can even make us feel like a part of the family.

In regards to her work with Maxim Healthcare, I asked Grenisha if she feels included as part of the “Team”. Grenisha laughed and replied, “Always! Someone is always in contact, calling and checking in and staying in communication to ensure we are all on the same page.” We discussed how keeping in touch with the office staff and staying in the communication loop made her feel like she is an important aspect to the healthcare team.

I asked Grenisha what she liked most about working in home health as a CNA compared to her past experiences. She replied, “In home health I am able to provide individual one on one care to client verses the 2 hour checks in the nursing home with 20 patients.” We discussed how smaller nurse to client ratios really allowed for individualized care and allowed the healthcare worker to really focus on improving the lives of the patient, instead of just trying to make it to the end of the shift.

During the Q&A, Grenisha really emphasized the importance of CNA’s in the home health settings. Not only do they provide care to our clients, but they also provide compassion and create an enjoyable environment to those in their care while also giving families a much needed break .

So to answer my initial question, do CNA’s really matter? YES, of course! CNA’s play a vital role at Maxim Healthcare. As much as our clients appreciate their CNA’s, we appreciate them even more! So thank you, Grenisha, and all of the CNA’s that go above and beyond at Maxim Healthcare. You matter, and we appreciate you!

Count your Blessings

“Why do they have to grow up?” A picture of a healthy new born baby was titled on a popular social media site. A lot of mother’s struggle with the fact that her baby is no longer a baby, but a strong and growing toddler; his baby face a mere memory.

I have looked at my own children with that same heartache. Where did my baby go? A lot of us parents at one point may think we want our babies to stop growing. The desire to stop a moment in time and be able to cherish it forever. While great in theory, sometimes the reality of stopping moments in time can come with unexpected challenges. For some, having that moment is real and can cause an altogether different heartache.

I have worked with many families during my nursing career, once such family stands out in my mind. For the family of this medically fragile child with a rare genetic disorder (picture a 5 year old the size of an 18 month old) seeing this child grow would be an answer to their prayers. Caring for this child has given me a rare glimpse of unconditional love. While this family would love nothing more than to see their child walk around and get into things she shouldn’t; to hear her sweet voice ask the same question for the millionth time; or to watch her participate in a school program; this is not their reality. Their reality consist of trach changes, lots of doctor’s appointments, therapist, g-tube feedings, respiratory care and a great deal of sacrifice.

Even with all of the struggles in her life, this little girl has so much love to give and even more snuggles. She keeps her family and nurses on their toes as much as she keeps them laughing.

As her nurse I have been there to experience many milestones. I have witnessed the family’s excitement on the day this sweet girl had just enough strength to use her core muscles to lift her legs for the first time at 3 years old. I have been there as she was learning to identify her first colors, shapes, and sight words as well as by her side all night as she is fighting hard to kick another bug.

This beautiful little girl has taught me so much as a nurse and even as a mother. Now as I witness my children growing and hitting milestones I thank my lucky stars. When my own little girl wakes me up at 3 am with growing pains, instead of being upset I remind myself that we are blessed.

She has taught me to cherish every single moment for what it is and celebrate growth no matter how big or small. I am proud to be able to have a small role in her life and I hope she knows how big of an impact she makes on mine.