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Letters to the Editor

Monday November 17, 2008
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Not All Nurses Supported Obama

I was pleased to see the article "McCain vs. Obama: Who Has the Better Health Plan?" in the Sept. 22 issue. It gave an unbiased overview of the presidential candidates' visions for healthcare reform. I have been a member of the American Nurses Association since 1997 and was not aware the ANA has been endorsing a presidential candidate since 1984.

I appreciate the ANA's endorsement process. However, I do not appreciate that in its Sept. 12 news release it implied that all 2.9 million nurses in the country supported Obama. I am surprised the ANA believes it can speak for all nurses. I am one nurse who did not support the Obama/Biden ticket. I would prefer the ANA uses its time and money to produce information and resources about healthcare reform and let individual nurses make their own political choices.

— Kathy Wruk, RN, C
Gilbert, Ariz.

RN Nurtures Students in NICU

What a wonderful story ("Go Sweetly Into the Night," Sept. 22 ). With damp eyes, I give thanks to the student nurses in the story, who were able to see what a blessing the nursing profession is. Although the loss of life is difficult, it shows that with all of the technology and policy and procedures, it is the human touch that caring nurses often provide that makes us special. Author Dawn Rice's acknowledgment of talking the students through the more difficult moments is a positive example of how we need to nurture our future nurses as well as our patients.

— Jodi Koenig, RN
Seguin, Texas

Bittersweet Memory

Regarding the article "Go Sweetly Into the Night," I once did the same thing for a baby who suddenly "went bad." Resuscitative measures didn't work. The parents were on their way to the hospital but did not arrive on time. I still consider it one of the best things I have done in my 30-year nursing career.

— Andrea C. Sency, RNC
West Paterson , NJ

Seeking RNs With Communication Deficits

A study of RNs in the U.S. with hearing, vision, or communication deficits is being conducted by the Yale University School of Nursing. The study is designed to measure work instability (the mismatch between the ability to perform nursing work and the demands and expectations of the work) in nurses who have difficulty hearing, seeing (but are able to read large type), or communicating (being understood or understanding others, unrelated to a cognitive deficit).

To obtain study materials and to participate in this study, e-mail Leslie.neal-boylan@yale.edu or call 203-785-3337.

— Leslie Neal-Boylan, RN, PhD, APRN-BC
Associate Professor of Nursing
Yale School of Nursing
New Haven, Conn.

The Importance of "Little Things"

I enjoyed the End of Shift article "The Little Things," in the July 28 issue. After reading this article, I realized this is why I became a nurse practitioner. The "little things" were being bypassed on a daily basis by many of the physicians I worked with, and I realized I needed to have more of a say in how patients were being cared for holistically.

We have so many excellent physicians, but so often just diagnosing and medically treating patients does not equal quality care. I am so happy that while I am examining, diagnosing, and treating a patient, I am also able to pay attention to the "little things," often providing immeasurable comfort and healing. I applaud the writer, Andrew Seefeld, MD, for the insight he shared, and hats off to all the nurses who continue to extend that extra effort to pay attention to the "little things."

— Melissa K. Plavsa, RN, FNP-BC
Cedar Lake, Ind.

Story Gives RN a Short Respite

I want to share with you how much comfort I received when reading the End of Shift article, "Birds of Peace," by Veronica Hojnacki, RN, in the July 14 issue. I had just heard of the impending death of my aunt and was struggling to concentrate on my work. The article helped me focus on other topics for brief periods of time, distracting me from my distressing personal thoughts.

I also received comfort from the photo of a smiling Hojnacki. I could feel her sincerity and empathy through the page. I have family in Smithtown, N.Y., so this nurse may one day take care of one of my family members. Reading her warm and wonderful article, I believe my family members would be privileged to receive her care.

Thanks for the lift. I needed it!

— Catherine Farnham, RN, PHN
Hollister, Calif.

Salmonella Proves Elusive Target

Thank you for the article about nurses tracking Salmonella, "Unusual Suspects," (July 28) issue. I am quite concerned the investigators seemed to jump on the tomato bandwagon — which turned out to be the wrong wagon — causing massive industry unpheaval. I wonder if a more careful epidemiological review might have avoided this.

I definitely sympathize with the fact it requires a much more in-depth investigative approach, involving food inspectors visiting individual restaurants and wholesalers, to determine a Salmonella source if the suspected culprit food, like jalapeño peppers, is only a risk food if it originates in Mexico, while not a risk food if it is grown in the U.S.

— Peter Vaernet, RN
Child Care Health Consultant
Maternal and Child Health Section
San Francisco Department of Public Health

RN's 'Broken Heart' is Healing

I found your article on the broken-heart syndrome ("Wrap Your Mind Around Octopus Syndrome," July 14) interesting. I have been a nurse for the last 25 years, and a cardiac nurse for at least half that time. Over the past Independence Day holiday, I developed severe chest pains and transient ischemic attack symptoms. I had several neurological and cardiac tests. All the neuro tests were normal. My ECHO was abnormal, and my cardiologist diagnosed me with broken-heart syndrome. Since then, my ejection fraction has increased from 30% to 50% with medication and bedrest. My doctor is expecting a full recovery. Your article was precise in describing the syndrome's symptoms. Thank you for informing other nurses of this condtion.

— Dawn Gagliano, RN
New Lenox, IL

The Value of Admission Nurses

Thank you for an eye-opening article about admission nurses "Rapid Turnover," in the Aug. 11 issue. I have been one of two admission nurses at Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas since 2003. I love my job. It gives me the one-on-one experience the article described, and I'm able to teach. Many of our patients have serious knowledge deficits, and my position allows me the extra time that the unit nurses don't have to explain to patients' their disease process and the need for them to follow their treatment plans.

I am able to gather information about patients that unit nurses might miss because of lack of time for detailed history taking, We also measure wounds and do the paperwork for the staff. I believe physicians as well as staff nurses appreciate us. We are able to alert them to underlying factors affecting patients in a timely manner, which in turn might affect patients' care.

— Lois Cirrincione, RN

Put the Patient First

Thank you for your editorial about multi-generations in the workplace. I am a baby boomer, but sometimes I slip into the mature category in my philosophies. I teach nurses of all generations. I have included in my teaching that nurses should not wear thongs, have pierced tongues, or big tattoos that can seen by all. I am not judgmental, but I am trying to get student nurses to think beyond their own interests. I always focus my care based on the patient's perception of what is going on. We are not here for ourselves, we are here for the patients. I do not believe that nurses are martyrs and must put all of their own interests on hold for the sake of the patient, but I think we have to be reasonably modest in our approach to the patient. I find that a patient's impression of their healthcare worker also impacts their ability to have confidence in and develop a trusting rapport in that nurse as well as buy into his or her instructions.

— Judy Marshall, RN
Cary, Ill.

Freestanding Surgery Centers No Cake Walk

(In reference to the Sept. 8 cover story "Journey to Jobs: Promising Paths for Nurses," it is true most freestanding surgery centers are closed on weekends and holidays and most do not require call or shift work. While those factors might make it easier work for mature OR nurses, there are a few other factors to consider. Many freestanding surgery centers are at least in part corporate- and/or physician-owned and therefore profit-oriented. High volume and rapid turnover of cases are part of that culture. Also, most of these centers do not waste their profit on ancillary staff, so OR nurses also clean and restock the OR; process instruments; and transport, lift, and position patients for surgery.

Because staffing levels are kept at a minimum, OR nurses are frequently asked to stay late to complete cases that were added on to the schedule or exceeded their posted time. There are pros and cons to all nursing positions and those may change depending on the career stage for each nurse. But free-standing surgery centers may not be easier than hospital surgery departments.

— Elaine Worsham, RN
Euless, Texas