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Straight Talk
A weekly update from management on the issues that matter most.

Oct 12, 2017
This is National Emergency Nurses week, with yesterday being Emergency Nurses day. Director of Emergency services, Betsy Novakovich, shared the following:

Our dedicated team of emergency room nurses are at the ready to treat arrivals with almost every injury, trauma, illness, or malady.  Within minutes, the ER department can be full and even over capacity with those in need of fast treatment.  It is the only place that cares from birth to death and can do so all within one shift.  An ER nurse can run a code with the ER team and be unsuccessful and turn around 5 minutes later and walk into another room with a smile on his/her face to see what can be done to help the next person.

ER nurses have to be ready for almost any situation at any time.  It is not only a hard job, but also it can be emotionally and physically draining.  Sometimes a pat on the back is all it takes to let these individuals know that what they do is not something that just anyone can do and how much patients rely on their professionalism and experience.

We have four very busy ERs with 118,801 visits per year.  Our volumes vary dramatically by time of day, day of week, and season of year.  We care for the most vulnerable at their absolute worst.  Our professionals’ care ranges from delivering emergent babies to holding the hands of people taking their last breaths.   Below are representative samples of why folks became ER RNs and examples of the best/worst parts of the profession.

Baker Hospital Derek Ryan became an RN to improve his life and to follow his mom’s example, an ambulance dispatcher, and aunt’s career, an ER RN.  Best—teaching patients; Worst—patients having to wait too long to get care due to lack of insurance and subsequently having a more advanced illness.  Interestingly, affordability is also a major concern of the American Hospital Association.  Derek stressed the challenges of patients with chronic behavioral health problems including alcohol abuse.

Baker Hospital Jacob Cushman followed an RN friend’s suggestion to try ER nursing after he started in a cardiac-tele unit.  Jacob was not just interested in an adrenalin rush but realized he could be the best part of a bad day for a patient.  Every day is different and never the same day twice.  Worst—stabilizing and signing off, not knowing the follow-up or what is next for the patient.  Jacob observed: You need a broad span of education and knowing something about everything.  You also have to be able to control the flow and, as in white water rafting, avoid the big rocks.  There will be chaos.  You can have a person with mental health needs in one room and a cardiac arrest in the next.

Robert, Mariann, and Megan McDonald Pediatric RN Jacki Ellis started her career as a phlebotomist at NCH in 1997, subsequently becoming an RN in mid-life.  Best—helping children and their families as well as learning something new every day are more fun now that Jacki is a grandmother.  Worst—wanting to do more for a patient.

North Naples ER Casey Kinkade was an ER tech and has been a night ER RN for thirteen years.  Colleagues, RN Karen Liguori and RN Tracy Wood, shared with Casey the best of ER service as variety, keeping skills current, quick turnaround of symptoms, fixing people right away, always open, and team work.  Worst—pain of death, frustration of not being able to “fix” things, and the pathos of child abuse victims. 

NCH Northeast free standing ER Charge RN Kirk Larison’s father was an ER RN, so the profession runs in the family.  First as a field paramedic, Kirk has been in healthcare for twenty-eight years.  Joined by RN Michael Callahan and Respiratory Therapist Michael Callahan, the best—solving problems and helping when someone has lost all hope, the satisfaction of educating patients, and teamwork.  The worst—can’t get the screams out of my head, when the spouse of sixty-five years receives very sad news or consoling the mother of a crib-death infant.

The best and the worst experiences all in one day in one place—those encompass our ER RNs’ experience as they help everyone live a longer, happier, and healthier life.


Allen Weiss, MD

President and CEO

You may contact Dr. Allen Weiss and The NCH Healthcare System by clicking here.