November 1, 2010

Peanut Butter & Jelly Team

My feet, legs, and hips hurt so badly after my 16-hour nursing shift last night that I could hardly press the gas pedal to drive the 20-miles home!

It was my first shift as the RN Supervisor. The day started with an order to empty one 10-patient hall for a weekend painting project that was to began at 0800. Yes, get 10 patients out of bed and move them and their belongings to another assigned room in various parts of the facility within 45-minutes! One CNA and I managed to accomplished it on time, much to the painters' delight. It ended with a tragic fall that required emergency medical care!

During the two shifts, I saw a full 24-hour shift change. The day presented challenges that stretched my mind beyond imagination and required quick managerial decisions, light foot-stepping, firm declarations, a calm disposition, and an attitude that would reflect positively during Monday's administrative/department-head review meeting.

Most of the staff welcomed me politely and professionally, although it was clear that they had no clue why the new position was established, or what they were to expect of me. One nurse quickly announced that I should be made supervisor of the facility. Another said she expected me to take on a med cart to give the medicine nurses a break. Someone said they didn't wear gloves while doing an accucheck unless State (inspectors) were in the building.

I assured the staff that my job description has been clearly explained to me by the Director of Nurses, and that my duties would become more clear as time went by. My purpose is to help make the unit run more cohesively and with better communication. I hope to be their second set of hands where ever needed.

Looking back, it is quite remarkable how the day unfolded - and I with it.
(This is written in a way to reflect patient confidentiality.)

Student nurses and their Instructor inquired why an order looked like it had not been completed, and a family member wanted to know why. (It wasn't even a nursing order.) They expected immediate resolution.

A patient called her son (who called me) to complain that her call light wasn't working, and she had no silverware on her dinner tray. (Give her a bell and find out how she was recorded as having eaten 100 percent of her dinner without silverware.)

One patient complained of chest pain that I had to conclude was more indigestion than a heart attack. Another patient complained of shortness of breath that I had to conclude was related to his heart and needed transferred to a hospital.

A patient was very upset because her bedpan was too small, but she tossed the extra large one across the room and filled the bed...

One took out his dentures at the dinner table, laid them on his napkin and ordered denture adhesive immediately.

The most funny incident of the day was when I was making rounds of all the patients that had been temporally moved to other units for the painting project. (They kept their original nurse and aide who also had to transverse the entire facility to keep up.) I went into a room on a unit on the other side of the facility to check on one of our patients.

"Hi. I'm a nurse from the other side checking to see if you are doing okay and if you need anything," I said with my usual confident 'angel' smile.

The patient looked at me with a very shocked and startled look as he responded, "...From the other side? Have I died already?'

Too funny.

I'm thinking of calling my team the "Peanut Butter & Jelly Team". When I told my staff, some chuckled and one or two looked at me like I was crazy. (The D.O.N said she really liked it.)

It goes like this.

Peanut Butter for sticktogetherness. (We need to stick together as a team.) Jelly for more sweetness on your shift because LINDA'S HERE!

I'm finally home with my feet propped up and a few Motrin controlling the pain. The week off will be short, I'm sure. But already I'm organizing and planning for next weekend and its 32 hours of challenges to confront, ignore, support, withstand, defy, delay, transfer, or master - with that confident 'angel' smile.

Take Care on the Journey,

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