Tag Archives: nurse

The Hammer Nurse: Serving Above and Beyond

By Cathie Wood, Director of Health Services

Cathie Wood

Cathie writing her blog while enjoying the scenery in Savannah, GA.

During National Nurses’ Week, I pause to reflect on my nursing career and first year at Hammer. I’m drawn to thoughts of why, more than 20 years ago, I made the decision to work in this profession. I was a DSP in one of the first intermediate care facilities (ICF) in Massachusetts, and I realized I had a passion for serving people. My work as a DSP was rewarding, but I wanted to do something more to advocate for the people I served. Looking at our ICF team, I felt the nurse’s role was the most capable of making significant change in the quickest amount of time. My course was set.

A few years later, I was finally a nurse; however, because of life’s circumstances, I was unable to work in the developmental disabilities services field. So, I worked for several large organizations and always found ways to balance person centered connections that were important to me with business demands that were important for the company. My goal always was, and still is, to help people have the best experience possible during their time of need. Working for these large companies gave me certain customer service and person centered health care skills. It was satisfying, but ever since starting at Hammer almost a year ago, I have a renewed sense of fulfillment, joy and satisfaction without end. I also believe this has translated into a better overall experience for my team of six nurses and, most importantly, the individuals I server.

Nurses_smallSpeaking of my team, they are amazing. At Hammer, I know the nurses go far beyond the call of duty every day. Actually, I’ve noticed that ALL Hammer staff dedicate themselves to giving the best support and care to every person they encounter each day. I’ve heard phrases about “work family” used in in almost every place I’ve been employed, but I’ve never truly seen it in action until joining the Hammer Family. Our dedication is certainly to the men and woman we support, but it’s also to the people we work alongside. I see in my team a combined effort and shared passion for our work that provides a quality of life not measured in dollars, but in life well lived.

From my perspective, I see Hammer’s nurses providing the highest level of care. They show me every day that they are willing to put in the extra effort to ensure that the people we support get the very best. The nursing team is a unique and valued asset at Hammer. This team brings a level of education, experience, commitment, compassion and care that is unmatched anywhere. Their ability to collaborate with teams of primary care providers, medical specialists, a variety of therapists, dentists, pharmacists, dieticians, case workers, insurance companies, families, program managers and direct support staff, per individual they support, is incredible.

HAMMER 6.20.14 122The active, hands on approach Hammer’s nurses take allows them to build relationships with those we serve, which ultimately leads to higher quality care. Hammer’s nursing team provides complex medical advice and education, using a variety of resources and real-life examples, to help staff at our 46 home and apartment programs understand what they need to do and why they need to do it. The nurses give personal care as well as triage to equip staff with the skill and confidence they need to do their job if the unexpected happens. Every day, the nurses positively affect the health and overall quality of life of roughly 275 men and women. Through person-centered communication, timely and accurate nursing assessments, safe medication administration, monitoring, intervention, education, advocacy, technical skills and a host of other duties, the nursing team continuously enables each person they care for to live a healthy, safe and full life.

I believe we are surrounded by extraordinary acts all the time, and I have been fortunate enough to witness some of these moments through the nurses on my team. Simply put, Hammer nurses rock!

A Nurse, His Cellphone and the Work He Loves

By Brandon Eddy, RN

My day starts early in the morning when I hear that peaceful, calming sound of the alarm clock going off at 6:45AM. As soon as I roll over, grab my alarm, and quickly turn it off, I check my phone (not for Facebook or ESPN updates). In fact, I check my text messages and emails right away to see if a medical incident or overnight emergency (i.e. a visit to Urgent Care or the ER, having a seizure, etc.) occurred. As a Hammer nurse, I need to be in the know about all of the individuals I support.

Brandon and his dadThe beauty of Hammer’s nursing efficiency lies in the Emergency Nurse’s Cellphone. Apart from showering, this phone is glued to the hip of a nurse 24/7/365. It enables direct support staff and Program Managers to reach a healthcare professional and get timely assessments and advice on varying medical situations at all times. This single point of communication during off-hours allows my team and me to collect then disseminate all necessary information to our appropriate co-worker.  It is a phenomenal tool and ensures that the people we serve are always receiving the best care available.

In fact, a medical emergency occurred recently that required my attention and care. A person I support was hospitalized with a 45 minute grand-mal seizure. The on-call nurse made sure I knew so I would be able to get to the hospital first thing in the morning. While there, I was able to assist the hospital nursing staff with medical questions specific to that person.

During this time, I received another call from a Program Manager, informing me that an individual he supported fell and developed a large bruise. Given this information, I left the hospital, drove to the house, and performed an assessment on the individual to determine if the injury was superficial or if further medical assistance was needed.

Brandon chatting with an individual he supports at the Fishing Trip pizza lunch.Once these immediate issues are handled, I head to the Main Building to start on my office responsibilities. I work on finalizing any changes to medications or diets. I help plan exercise programs. I also chart on medical referrals that have come my way. After these duties I usually head out; however, I do not go home.

I became a nurse for the personal interactions and ability to directly improve the quality of someone’s life. After the work I put in at the main office, I get to go out to the Hammer homes/apartments and care for individuals. I want each person I support to have the comfort and decreased stress in knowing they have a nurse working with them on their health and overall happiness. This is how I live out Hammer’s mission. It is by far the best part of my job!

So, when I am asked who a Hammer nurse is, I am confident in my response. A Hammer nurse is there – whenever, wherever and however. We are there for the individuals we support. We are there for the staff members who tirelessly work with these individuals. We are there to be knowledgeable medical resources. We are there to ensure that the people we support live the happiest and healthiest lives they deserve.

Person-Centered Care

By Christine R. Olsen, RN

When the first words I hear in the morning are: “I haven’t pooped in a week,” I know it’s going to be an interesting day. About a month into my time working at Hammer, I woke up to one of those calls from an individual we support. Now, I’m a nurse, so to be honest, this wasn’t the first time I’d been called upon to relieve a bowel, nor will it be the last. I drove out to the house medically confident of what I needed to do to make the situation right. When I arrived, I was greeted by a rather uncomfortable looking young man. I explained what I was going to do, he nodded gratefully, said he understood, and willingly got into position. But as I gestured to insert an enema, his eyes widened and in a tone of disbelief and terror he groaned, “Where do you think you’re gonna put that?!”

Prior to working at Hammer, my experience with intellectually disabled populations was limited. In the past, when I described a procedure and a patient told me they understood, I could take them at their word. This was my first Hammer lesson: healthcare is not one size fits all. Further, the people we serve are not just patients; they are active participants in their own care and have a right to be cared for and communicated with in a way that’s appropriate for their individual needs.

Christine Olsen and James McKune

Hammer has reinforced these values by building its Health Service Department on a foundation of person-centered care. Traditionally, healthcare has been delivered through a hierarchical model in which the healthcare provider bestows their education and experience upon their patient and is ultimately responsible for deciding the course of care. Conversely, in the philosophy of person-centered care, decision making is returned to the people we serve, regardless of their functional or cognitive ability, so that their personal goals and preferences become central to care planning. However, this requires that the healthcare professional take a step back to act as an advisor and advocate rather than simply a provider.

In the year I’ve been a nurse with Hammer, I’ve come to understand that my role here is not just to deliver healthcare but to collaborate with the people we serve and their caregivers to develop creative and appropriate approaches to ensure that their health related needs and preferences are met in ways that are both individualized and meaningful. I’d be lying if I said person-centered care was a concept I learned once and instantly understood; as a nursing professional I continue to be challenged by this every day. There are certainly times when I feel doing things “my way” might save time and energy. But none of us work at Hammer because it’s easy; we’re here to make life better for the people we support. That’s why when I see creative strategies like incentive driven weight loss plans at our homes, or a DSP urging a doctor to speak directly to the person we support rather than addressing staff, I am pleasantly reminded that this person-centered philosophy actually runs through all that Hammer does day in and day out.