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Sunday, September 17, 2017

10 Lessons Learned as a Hurricane Evacuee

Last week, the US Virgin Islands and the State of Florida took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma. I have lived in South Florida for 29 years and have been through 5 major hurricanes, but this one seemed different. The news reports were saying South Florida (where I live) was going to experience winds up to 185 miles per hour. As we watched the news, my husband said he was going to secure the house and we were going to evacuate. I was relieved as this was going to be a huge storm and I was scared. Being disabled, I could not help with the preparations outside but did what I could do inside our home. Our goal was to leave early so we could stay ahead of the traffic as others (tens of thousands) decided they would do the same thing. We were on the road 4 days before the storm was to make landfall in the Florida Keys. In this weeks, Nurse Advocate, I wanted to share what I learned from this experience.

1. Plan ahead and heed the official warnings: The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 with the peak period from early August through the end of October. During this time, newspapers provide checklists that help people know how to prepare before any hurricane materializes. As we know, it is better to prepare before a hurricane is on the way. Once the word goes out, people begin to panic, rush to the stores to buy supplies and purchase gas for their cars and generators. Those who have experienced a major hurricane, realize the work that goes into preparing for a hurricane. Taking the time to get your house and supplies in order will help you avoid the rush and the panic.

As Hurricane Irma approached there was a rush at grocery stores and gas stations. Many people who waited could not get what they wanted and panic set in. It is suggested that you have water and food you can prepare that does not require electricity for at least 3 days. As I write this Blog post, it is eight-day past the storm and thousands of people are still without electricity and some are without clean water. The temperatures are in the 90s so you can imagine the challenges many people are facing.  

2. Evacuate if you can. If you live in an evacuation zone, the officials will alert you if you have to evacuate. Those who are outside of evacuation zone can stay, but it was recommended that if you can, you should think about evacuating as the devastation expected was predicted to be monumental. We were told to gather up all your important papers, take photos of the inside and outside of your home and get on the road. It was recommended that those who evacuated should plan to stay away at least 10 days. This is because if the storm hits your area, you may not be able to return for some time. As we learned with past hurricanes, waiting is the hardest part. 

We decided to evacuate and left our home a few days before the storm so we could get ahead of the traffic. Where we live, it takes about 9 hours to get out of the State of Florida. This means you need enough gas to travel and refuel along the way due to the length of the State. Hurricane Irma was a huge storm so thousands of people decided to leave their homes for family and friends. As the storm approached the lines of cars increased and gas and hotel rooms became scarcer.

The direction of the Hurricane was a challenge for the experts to predict so thousands of people from all over the state were preparing to leave and hoped they were making the right choice as to where they would go.  That meant gas stations along the major routes would be taxed. We left early enough that we did not run into much traffic, but many people who left later were in traffic jams. There are only a few major routes out of Florida and with so many people leaving all at once, you can imagine the traffic. So again, planning ahead is important.

3. If you know where you are going and will need an overnight stay, call head for a hotel. Finding a hotel was difficult. Most hotels along the main routes were sold out. We thought we were going to have to sleep in the car our first night on the road, but we found a room at the last hotel we stopped. Many people slept in their cars at rest stations as there were no rooms available. Another problem that became evident, was for people who had pets. Many hotels are not pet-friendly, so finding a hotel with a pet can be a barrier. As the storm direction became clearer, Governor Scott asked hotels to consider reversing this policy and allowing pets to stay at those hotels who were not pet-friendly. Many did change the policy but charged an extra fee, so many found the costs of hotel rooms to be very high. We stopped along the route to eat and use the facilities and I noted many people were traveling with large families, children and the elderly were most apparent.

4. Evacuating is expensive, so the cost of evacuating has to be taken into account. It is not cheap to evacuate. Gas, lodging, food all need to be accounted for. The cost of evacuating is the reason many people decide to stay put and take their chances.  During our trip, I got an email from our Insurance Company that said if you were in an evacuation zone, keep your receipts and they would reimburse for gas, food, and lodging. This was a relief for many and a goodwill gesture from the insurance company. We were not in an evacuation zone so we could not take advantage of this, but for those who were, it was a relief.

5. Stay connected on social media:. In the impacted areas, many people used social media sites like Facebook to tell their friends and family what stores had food and ice, what gas stations had gas and how long the lines were and where people could get plywood and batteries. This really helped people to know where to go to get the items they needed. It was also helpful to know how people were doing. For me, it provided a support system to know we were not alone and our families and friends were safe or if they needed help. 

6. Have a Plan B: when we got to our first destination in Destin FL, we found people to be very supportive and friendly. We met people from all over the state who were ‘running from the hurricane’. All had stories of how their trip went and the experiences they had. It was reassuring to be in a safe place with people who were understanding and empathetic. 

On day two of being in Destin, we stopped at the desk to add a few more days onto our stay. We were told that the storm took a new direction and now was heading west. As a result, we were informed that they might have to evacuate the hotel and would get the final ruling later in the day. As a result, we decided to leave (to stay ahead of the traffic). We headed further west to New Orleans. I had called Marriott and we were able to find a Courtyard that allowed us to wait out the storm. Being in New Orleans was fun, but it was stressful as we knew what we were facing, but we made the most of it and had some fun.

7. The Path of the Storm is Unpredictable. The experts were doing their best, but Hurricanes are erratic and difficult to predict 100%. Hurricane Irma was so big it touched the entire state. Most events were canceled and all were on guard as the storm approached.

8Find Shelters where you can be safe. If you decide to stay and wait out the storm, find out where the shelters are, so if you need help, you can get it. I have an Aunt who lives on the west coast of Florida. She is in her mid-80s and very active. She said she was staying put in her home as she did not know where else to go. I urged her to find out where the shelter was and to secure a spot just in case. it was good she did, as the storm turned at the last minute and put her area into an evacuation zone. She and her son did go to a shelter and were safe as a result. 

     9. Looking at the Damage: As the storm moved forward we began to hear reports of how the Islands, the Keys and the South and West Coast of Florida fared as Hurricane Irma continued on its path northward. Damage was being shown and the impact of the damage started to come out. Our State was hit again and it would take time to recuperate. Other areas such as the US Virgin Islands were devastated and their future is unknown. Very sad. 

10. Going Home is as Stressful as Leaving. Three days after the storm passed through South Florida, we started hearing from our neighbors that our house was ok and we had electricity so we decided to head home. As we started on our way, we realized all the people who evacuated would also be returning, so again, we had to be aware of our gas levels and worry about the routes we were taking as thousands of people would all be heading in the same direction to get home. Through Social Media and text messages from friends, we learned about a number of apps we could download to our cell phones that could alert us to traffic jams and alternate routes which proved helpful. 

As we were anxious to get home, we decided to drive straight through from New Orleans to Fort Lauderdale. My husband is a trooper and likes to drive so he was able to meet the task. I am still not able to drive due to my disability so I was grateful he has the stamina and the fortitude to drive the entire way. We left New Orleans about 10am and arrived at our home at 1:30am. We stopped a few times along the way. We were grateful the traffic flowed without long stops and allowed us to make good time as we headed home. 

It was dark when we pulled into our development so we could not see much. We got up early the next day and took a look around our home. We found lots of trees down, leaves all over, but thankfully no damage to the house. The storm did not drop a lot of rain, so there was no flooding as had occurred in Houston TX a few weeks before. 

Overall our area fared well but other areas not as well….As most people reading this post know, the US Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys were hit really hard. We also learned the West Coast of Florida (Naples, Marco Island and areas up the coast) got the brunt of the storm. Further north, Orlando and Jacksonville were also impacted. Today, as I write this post, there are still thousands of people without power, running water and phone/cell service. Many are struggling and we are finding out how bad as horror stories hit the news of people who have died or suffered major health conditions due to lack of air conditioning as they still have no power. 

Support services are doing the best they can, and families and friends are urged to check on the elderly and report problems to the police.  This Monday, our public radio station, WLRN will have a ‘post-mortem’ of the storm preparedness and take calls from the public and government officials so we all can learn from this experience and find ways to do better the next time.

As I mentioned, people we met along the way and in areas where we stayed were very nice and helpful. The Welcome Center in New Orleans was great and gave us good ideas on things we could do, places to eat and support that we would get through the storm.  People were generous with their time and advice. Also, we were overwhelmed by the support from our family and friends. We kept people updated via text messages and phone calls. Many of the phone companies said they will wave the fees for data usage which was helpful. Keeping the phone charged was a priority so we had a way to communicate. Many people who stayed during the hurricane found they were without their communication devices which caused and is still causing ng much anxiety.

As we adjust and come to know the damage caused by Hurricane Irma my husband and I are talking about what we need to do to better secure our home for the next hurricane. We know we will have to invest in some upgrades like permanent shutters or replace windows that are not hurricane ready. As we get older, it is unclear how much longer we can do the work it takes to prepare and secure our home as well as tackling the clean up after the storm passes. All options are on the table.  

One thing most people agree on is, that with global warming, hurricanes and other natural events will become more intense and our areas are more at risk. Taking the time to prepare our homes, look at evacuation routes and have the necessary insurance will be important going forward.

Stay safe!

PS. Let me know how you and your families fared during Hurricane Henry and Irma. Sharing stories help others learn. Leave a post or shoot me an email at

Additional Comments

I talked to two friends of mine who rode out the Irma at their homes in South Florida. One was in South Miami and the other in Tamarac Fl. Both said they had transistor radios that were battery operated that really helped them during the storm, especially with the Tornado warnings. When the warnings came, they would move to a walk-in closet and wait for the all clear. They said these were scary and nerve-wracking as they did not know what to expect. The radio's helped as it kept them connected especially after the power went out.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Rise of the Empowered Consumer

Today consumers are being asked to take a more active role in their health and healthcare. But to be effective, they need help to understand how the system works and what their role is in the complex world of healthcare.

If we are honest, most of us don’t worry about our health care or how to use the health care system until something happens to us and we are thrust into a complex, fragmented and costly system. By taking the time to learn how the system works and our role in the system before we need it allows us to be in a better position to make informed decisions regarding our health and health care. 

In this edition of Nurse Advocate, I  share 10 tips that each of us can use to help us to better understand the complex world of healthcare and our responsibility as consumers of health care.  See how many of these tips you are doing! If you have questions on any of these points, let me know.
  • Use the tools offered to you by your insurance company. When you are enrolled in a healthcare insurance plan, you are usually given a member handbook. If you are not given a hard copy, you might be directed to the company’s website where you can download it.  Regardless of how you get it, the first thing you should do is read it - as it will help you know the benefits offered to you as a member. Being familiar with your policy helps you know how you can use your policy to its full potential. If you have questions, do not hesitate to call your insurance company. The member service line is a good way to get information and have questions answered.  When you call, they will verify that you are a member, so have your insurance card in front of you. Have a notebook so you can take notes. Note the date and time of the call and ask for the name of the person you are talking to. This will help if you have to call back or have a problem. The person you are talking to is also taking notes on what they tell you. Many times they will give you a reference number so if you have to call back the reference number will allow your conversation to be recalled by another member of the member service team.
  • Select a primary care physician or PCP: Having a primary physician that you see on a regular basis allows you to build a relationship with your doctor so they know you and you know them. Your PCP will be the person you go to for your annual physical or when you get a bad cold or experience another problem that drives you to a doctor. Many PCPs are starting to have extended hours and may even have weekend hours so you can see them without taking time off from work. This is an important question you can ask when searching for a primary care physician.
  • Learn where the urgent care centers are in your area. If you can't get to see your primary care physician in a timely manner, you can go to the urgent care center. Urgent care centers are less expensive than the emergency department. If your symptoms persist, following up with your primary care provider is a must.  
  • Start your own file. Get a binder and put all of your paperwork into the binder. Keep in mind, you are the only constant in your care. Over time, most if not all of your providers will change. Keeping good records will help you update new providers as to your history. Whenever you see a doctor or get a diagnostic test, ask for the report so you can share it with your primary doctor and add it to your file. If you get an x-ray, you can get a disc of the actual films so the ordering doctor can see the films themselves. Take your binder with you when you visit your doctor.  Doing so allows you to provide information that your doctor may not have when they see you. Having this information will cut down on fragmentation and duplication. 
  • Take time to visit your insurance company website. The website has a wealth of information that can help you learn about how you can take care of yourself and other tidbits you can use to stay healthy. Accessing your insurance company web portal allows you to have access to your medical claims and know what has been paid and what is still pending. It is important to remember that you should not pay any medical claims till your insurance company pays their portion. Once they have paid their portion, you will get an EOB or Estimate of Benefits which shows what the bill was, what the insurance company has paid and what you owe based on your insurance plan. You should also review the bills to make sure what is charged was done. Mistakes can happen, so checking the bills for accuracy is important. 
  • Check to see if your primary care physician has a patient portal as many providers have these portals. They allow you to communicate with your doctor.  This is another tool you should learn about as it enables you to communicate with your doctor and have access to medical records they have added. Most of these sites have technical support to help guide you in navigating the patient portals so if you are having trouble call tech support.
  • Be prepared for your doctor appointments. Just as you prepare for any appointment you go to, you should prepare for your doctor’s appointment. Doing so allows you to get the most out of your appointment. Make a list of questions or things you want to share with your doctor. If you are not sure about something you are doing, you can ask the nurses or the medical assistant who work with your doctor. Today, most doctors have several people who work with them to help patient with challenges they face. This could be a nurse, a case manager or a patient advocate. These professionals have more time to spend with you so take advantage of them so you better understand the plan of care. 
  • Ask a family member or friend to accompany you to your appointment. Most people go to their doctor's appointments themselves and do fine. But if you are getting news on a new diagnosis, or have a health challenge, you might want to have a second set of ears to help you remember what your doctor said. Most doctors are used to having patients brings someone with them to appointments so don't be afraid. If you are comfortable, you and the person who accompanies you will see the doctor together to discuss your situation and ask any questions that may come up. Many times you will forget to ask something and the person with you can remind you. The person who is with you should take notes so, after the appointment, you can discuss the appointment and review what was said and what you need to do. Notes from the meeting can go into your binder so you can refer to as needed.
  • Follow-up on tests that you have done. Make sure you call the physician who ordered the test to check-on the results. Many doctors have their office staff call you with the results, but sometimes they forgot to call you with the results. Don't assume no news is good news. If you don't have your results in a few days after the test, call the office to find out the results. Many times you will be asked to come in for the results. 
  • Follow directions, but if something is not going as expected, call your doctor. When you see a doctor, a plan of care will be developed. You should be part of developing this plan to make sure you agree with it. Being part of plan development allows you to have a part in the process and helps to ensure your commitment to the plan. If the plan of care you and your health care team develop is not meeting your needs, make sure you let the doctor know. Sometimes the original plan might not work and it has to be modified. Your doctor will not know this unless you or a family member call the doctor to let them know. Don’t wait till your next appointment if you notice something is not right or the plan is not working as expected
I hope these points help you to realize that you are the most important member of YOUR healthcare team. Being actively involved will help you regain control of your life and ensure you are getting treatment that meets your needs.


I wanted to share some of the past issues of Nurse Advocate that have touched on many of the points discussed in this post. These articles share my personal experiences as I traveled through my journey. The articles show how I have learned how to manage the challenges I encountered.

·       Taking Charge of Your Health and Healthcare. To read this post, click here. 
·       Everyone needs an advocate when they are thrust into the complex world of health care. To read this post, click here
·       Seven Steps for Healing, To read this post, click here
·       The Patient as the Center of the Healthcare Team. To read this post, click here

Thanks for reading this issue of Nurse Advocate. Take care of yourself! 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Passing of My Cousin

I received terrible news this week that my cousin Paul Francis died suddenly.  He was 61 years young and had a beautiful wife and two grown children. I was not aware of any medical problems, so that is why his sudden passing is a shock to us all.

As like most families, we did not see each other much over the years. Everyone is busy with their own lives and time passes quickly. I would send the annual Christmas card…but took for granted that there would always be another occasion where we would see each other again.

As I thought about my cousin, I remembered the good times we had when we were kids. My father and his mother, were brother and sister. Our parents came from a large family of seven brothers and sisters (four brothers and three sisters).  Each brother and sister had a number of children so our extended family numbered many. As his parents had a huge yard and were generous in opening their home, we gathered there often when we were kids. As a result, our generation of cousins became life long friends despite the distances between us. Over the years we have gotten together for weddings, births, and yes, deaths that happened over the years. We always had good times when we were together and kept up to date through the years through our various family members and Facebook.   

Last year, my cousin Patty and I put together a family reunion. Cousins came from across the country to reunite and shared how our lives were going and exchange memories.  We had a great turn out with all of our cousins and many of their children in attendance. As I think back, I am so happy my cousin and I took the time to plan the event as now we are a smaller group.

The sad event of my cousin’s passing made me think about a verse I had always loved from the Bible: Matthew 25:1-13, “we do not know the day or the hour, but we shall know the season. Therefore, be sober and do not slumber". To me, this passage tells me to stay alert, stay in touch, don’t put off what is important as there may not be a tomorrow. 

Having recently faced my own mortality, I have tried to keep this parable in mind. But as time passes by, I feel like I am slipping back into old routines where I put things off, don’t tell people I loved them and take for granted the short time we have on this earth. The passing of my cousin is the stark reminder I needed to get back on track. 

As our family mourns the loss of my cousin Paul Francis as he is put to rest, please remember his family with a positive thought or simple prayer. 

In closing, as we do not know the day or the hour, stay alert, don’t take things for granted or put off those things that are important as life is short. 

Be well! 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

5 Tips to Consider when You Experience a Life Changing Detour.

As many of us know, life is full of detours. A detour is defined as a long or roundabout route taken to avoid something or to visit somewhere along the way. As with driving, a detour can cause frustration, angst, and anxiety so learning how to work through a detour is important. 

On November 24, 2014, my life took a major detour when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I had no warning to prepare myself for this detour and it completely knocked me off track.

Getting back on course has been an interesting journey. The journey has led me to visit places I did not know existed and allowed me to meet people who helped me get back on track, which I am grateful.

In this week’s Nurse Advocate Post, I share 5 tips to consider when you or someone you care about experiences a life changing detour.

1    Ask questions: When you are thrown off course, the best way to get back on track is to stop and ask questions. Find out where you are, and what roads lead to the main road that will allow you to make choices that can get you back on track. Remember when you are lost, no question is stupid or trivial, so don’t be afraid to ask questions as they help you make informed decisions.

2    Follow advice: Since you don’t know where you are, you will need to allow others to help you.  One word of advice is to use common sense when taking advice from strangers. Sometimes people are not good at giving advice or only see the situation from their point of view. Use common sense when taking advice from others. Does the advice you are being given make sense to you? Ask a few people what they think, do research from reputable websites and talk to people who have had a similar experience or know the area. In the end, you will make the final decision as what is best for you. Don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision, take your time and be confident in your own decision-making skills as you know yourself best.

3    Critically think: getting back on track can open new doors for you. So take the time to evaluate where you are in life and what your next steps are. Coming back after a life changing detour can give you a new perspective on life allowing you to see your path through a new lens. 

4    Expect bumps: when you are traveling a road you are not familiar, expect bumps along the way. Reviewing your goals and what is important to you will help you be able to make difficult choices along your journey. Take time to review your goals and how you want your care to be handled if you can’t make decisions. Taking time to discuss your wishes with your family and friends is important before setting out on your journey. Also, having a living will, health care surrogate and someone to manage your finances if you are unable is important to have in place. Having your decisions and directives written down and available to those you choose to make decisions in your place will make things easier for those who care about you. Take the time to prepare in advance. 

     5. Stay positive: staying positive will allow you to move forward and get you back on course.

I hope these tips help you on your journey called LIFE. We never know when a curve ball will throw us off course so being prepared for a life changing detour is important.

Stay well!

Photo Credit: I found the image for this article on the web and checked out Cam Taylor. He has a wealth of information for those whose life has been thrown off course. Click here to visit his site and explore the resources.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Insights into TWO YEARS of Blogging

This week, Nurse Advocate celebrates 2 YEARS in production!  It has been a journey in which I have learned how to share information that benefits people who utilize the health care system as well as those who work in it.

As I look back, I noted my first post appeared on July 9, 2015. In this post, I introduced myself and shared my story. My second post appeared on July 22, 2015. In this post, I outlined my plan for Nurse Advocate and invited readers to join me by sharing their stories, challenges, and ideas so together we could improve the delivery of care we each travel. As with most things in life, it is interesting to look back as we move forward. 

Writing Nurse Advocate has been a healing experience for me. It has allowed me to have insight into a difficult time in my life and to learn from the experience. 

What has been the most satisfying part of writing Nurse Advocate has been hearing from readers that find the information I shared helpful in their lives as they work to overcome challenges they face when thrust into the complex world of healthcare. Many have used the tips I have shared and as a result have been empowered to be active in their care which has given them control at a time when they have felt lost.

The other half of my goal has been to provide examples that would open the eyes of the professionals who work in the healthcare system. Through these stories, I have allowed them to see the challenges patient and their caregivers face as they traverse the complex and fragmented healthcare system and how they can help to ease the path.

Hearing from my peers and professionals who read Nurse Advocate has been gratifying. Many have thanked me for allowing them to see their work from a different lens. Many have shared that my posts have given them new insights into how they can improve the work they do. Many have challenged me to dig deeper and to understand their challenges which have helped me give better information.

As I enter year three, I will continue to learn, listen and write information to support people who use the healthcare system as well as members of the healthcare team throughout the care continuum. I hope you enjoy the ride. 

Thank you for reading Nurse Advocate!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

2017 Professional Reading list

Continuous learning is a critical competency all professionals must engage as we move forward in our careers. Professionals must stay up-to-date of advances in practice, learn about new opportunities, and hone their skills. Last year I introduced 2016 Professional Reading List. Many of the books on that list of still relevant. If you missed last years list or want to review it again, click here to access. 

In this year’s Professional Reading List, I would like to highlight books and articles I have come across this year that are essential tools for all professionals in the healthcare field. I am excited that most of those books and articles are written by nurses and other members of the healthcare team!  

All of the books and articles provide information that will enhance your personal lives as well as your professional careers. Take a few minutes to review the list and purchase those that resonate with you.I hope you find a few books you will add to your professional library.

Let's get started!

My first recommendation is: “Medical Improv: A New Way to Improve Communication” by Beth Boynton, RN, MS. This testimonial from Tanya Bastin-Baltz, a Clinical Nurse Educator summed up why this book is a valuable tool as we all try to improve the culture of healthcare. She notes: “I am excited to have this book as a tool and a guide. The principles of Medical Improv are explained in depth. Also, there are extremely helpful, interactive exercises where you're given the opportunity to put theory into practice and boost your capability to communicate more efficiently and professionally with finesse. As a clinical nurse educator, the interactive nature of this book is beyond invaluable.” Beth graciously has provided a discount code to those who would like to purchase this important book. When you order the book, you can save 25% through eStore. Here is the link Please use this coupon code: MS3TVQQ9
Disclosure: I had the opportunity to work with Beth as she wrote this book. I learned a great deal on the topic and can see the value Medical Improv can during these disruptive times.

I am excited to share this next book, “Fear Transformed = POWER." The book is written by a nurse colleague I met last year at the National Nurse Empowerment Institute annual conference. Elisha Lowe, RN, BSN, MBA is a dynamic woman who has transformed her life many times. Today, she is a successful entrepreneur. Her first book is a tool we all can use to address FEAR as an information signal to be transformed into powerful actions. The book POWER helps us to harness the power of fear to be able to do great things with our lives as we face everything and rise! To review the book and purchase, go to

As a new Nurse Blogger, I have waited for this book for a long time, The Nurse’s Guide to Blogging, was written by Brittney Wilson and Kati Kleber. Brittney has been a mentor and an inspiration to many nurses who wanted to use blogging to share their knowledge, expertise, and insights.  As soon as the book was released, I ordered it and began to read it! I have to say it was worth the wait! These two nurses have put their heads together to create a one-stop resource for nurses looking to grow their blog, audience, and brand. If you are a nurse blogger or have thought about becoming a nurse blogging, this is a must read. Here is the link to review the book and purchase

The next book is from Donna Meheady, Ed.D. ARP and founder of The Exceptional Nurse. Her recent book is The Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disAbilities. Here is an overview: They're strong. They're persistent. They're resilient. They're exceptional nurses. Read the true, inspiring stories of nurses with disabilities who overcame significant odds—managing physical and mental challenges on the job—and continued to be a nurse through it all. You'll read of a nurse who has a learning disability and developed his own system of accommodation. You'll find out about a nurse who experienced an amputation after many conservation surgeries and found a way to keep working. You'll learn about a nurse who worked through a terrifying hurricane and developed mental illness and learned valuable lessons about herself to help her conquer it and continue being a nurse.  You'll hear the stories of what it's like to lose hearing while on the job as well as develop vision deficits while nursing. In all these stories, the nurses' resilience is what helped them pull through adverse situations, made them stronger and more capable nurses in the end. Also included is practical information on how to navigate the vocational rehabilitation system including a guide to requesting services, a sample accommodation request letter to share with an employer, as well as information on how to best disclose a psychiatric disability. Whether you're a nurse or a student with a disability or you care about a nurse with a disability, this book will leave you inspired and prepared to be an exceptional nurse yourself. Here is the link to check out the book.

Next is a book from a friend and fellow Nurse Blogger, Kathy Quan. Kathy wrote this book last year that I had the honor of reviewing. If you are currently working or want to work in the area of home care, “Exploring the Home Health Care Experience; Transitioning Your Career Path" is an important book for you to read. Here are a few words about the book: “For nurses looking for a new challenge outside of the hospital and bedside care, this book explores the skilled home health care option for LV/PNS and RNs as well as therapists and social workers. It provides necessary information to give the reader a head start when inquiring and applying for a new position as well as understanding the basic vernacular and processes. As the population continues to age, the need for skilled home health care continues to grow. Hospital stays get shorter and shorter, and patients are being discharged sicker than ever before. Nurses are needed in increasing numbers to help them transition home and learn the skills necessary to remain in their own home as long as possible. You'll be surprised how many people have no idea what their medications are for, much less how to manage exacerbation of chronic diseases outside of the hospital setting. If patient education excites you, then home health care may be the niche you're looking for." Here is the link to the Amazon page where you can review and purchase.

Linda Grobman, Facebook friend, and Social Work Leader sent me a note about a new book her and her team has recently published. The book is: "The A-to-Z Self-Care Handbook for Social Workers and Other Helping Professionals." The book was edited by Erlene Grise-Owens, Justin Jay Miller, and Mindy Eaves, published by The New Social Worker Press. Here is a snippet from the book: Self-care is an imperative for the ethical practice of social work and other helping professions. From A (awareness) to Z (ZZZZ--Sleep), the editors and contributors use a simple A-to-Z framework to outline strategies to help you build a self-care plan with specific goals and ways to reach them realistically. Questions for reflection and additional resource lists help you to dig deeper in your self-care journey. Just as the ABCs are essential building blocks for a young child’s learning, you can use the ABCs in The A-to-Z Self-Care Handbook for Social Workers and Other Helping Professionals to build your way to a happy, healthy, ethical life as a helping professional. Includes a self-care planning form to help you set goals and formulate strategies. Here is the link to review the book and purchase.

The next recommendation came from a nurse colleague, Mr. Rene Steinhauer RN, EMT-P whom I met in the Nurse Writers Facebook Group.  He shared a book he wrote; "Saving Jimani; Life and Death in the Haiti Earthquake." He noted that this is a real story of his team's work in the first days of the Haiti Earthquake.  During this time, the team was overwhelmed with more than 2000 casualties and ran out of supplies in the first 24 hours.  Critical triage needed to be performed and creative solutions needed to occur.  All of this is told as we follow the rescue of one of the many individuals saved during this disaster.  Here are a two of the many quotes of book reviews found on; "Saving Jimani should be required pre-deployment reading for all disaster volunteers." "It's an engrossing and unvarnished look at medical volunteerism after a horrible catastrophe. "Saving Jimani" is not a book for the timid or for those who have a romanticized view of medicine saving lives amid chaos. Here is a link to check out this important book.

Next is a recommendation from Dan Walter. "Collateral Damage" is a stark reminder of the human side of what may often be seen as statistics, hidden behind words such as “adverse patient outcome.” The book presents, in its clearest form, the suffering of those left damaged by medical complications. It makes for compelling reading for ethicists, lawyers, all members of the healthcare team including patients and their caregivers. To learn more and purchase, go to ebook/dp/B004EHZXAM

My next recommendation is a book by a LinkedIn contact, Kathy Torpie. "Losing Face: A Memoir of Lost Identity and Self Discovery" 
Losing Face’ tells the story of Kathy Torpie’s long journey of recovery as she struggles to cope with life changing multiple trauma following a head-on collision with a drunk driver. She takes the reader on a journey through the alien and often terrifying world of the hospital as experienced by the patient. It is an intensely intimate view of the patient experience. One that is often hidden by more visible physical trauma. As a patient, Kathy encountered a broad spectrum of health care professionals in a wide variety of circumstances in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. She was left with new insights about the powerful influence that the clinician/patient relationship can have on important clinical outcomes, on patient safety, and on patient satisfaction. Losing Face was written as an invitation to enter into the world of the patient and share in some of the discoveries Kathy made along the way about the medical and personal dimensions of the patient experience. To learn more, visit her website,

In May 2017 I heard Dr. Paul Grundy, physician leader in the Patient Centered Medical Home movement, deliver the opening Keynote at the Care Coordination Summit in Baltimore MD. After his presentation, I asked him a question; "how is the consumer supposed to navigate the healthcare system"? He said, “I am so glad you asked that question as I just finished writing a book titled: "Lost and Found: A Consumer’s Gide to Healthcare." The book is an up-to-the-minute guide designed to help consumers of health care navigate the obstacles that stand between them and high-quality, affordable health care. Readers will learn about why primary care, more than any other aspect of medicine, will determine the quality of our healthcare as a nation. They'll see the value inherent in a strong patient-physician relationship and how a "familiar physician" delivers the best preventive and acute care and chronic care management. And they'll find out how to save money without sacrificing quality in today’s changing healthcare environment. To learn more and purchase this book visit the website;

Wendell Matas, a colleague who I have been in contact with for years mostly through Facebook, took the time to share his contribution; “Incompatible with Nature: a Mothers Story” by Tracie Frank Mayer. He shared he met the author Tracie, her sister and Tracie’s son at a New Year’s Eve Party a year and a half ago. He said he had no idea that this mother and son has such an incredible story of him being born with a defective heart. The story will resonate with many because she was a staunch advocate for her son! Here is the link to review and purchase

Teri Treiger case management friend and colleague shared the book she has been most impressed with this year; “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. Teri shared that each chapter highlights a personal story of someone coming to grips with their mortality. Each example points to the shortcomings or highlights the clinicians involved. She suggests that people read the book not as a nurse or social worker or case manager.... but simply as a human being. Here is the link

Colleague and friend from the Nurse Empowerment Institute Shushanne Wynter-Minott, MSN, DNP, FNP-BC recently co-wrote an article with M. Sue McManus, Ph.D., BC-FNP, CNN titled; "Guidelines for Chronic Kidney Disease: Defining, Staging, and Managing in Primary Care. " The article is in the Journal of Nurse Practitioners. If you work with patients which Kidney Disease this is an excellent article that will help you understand the disease, pathology and treatment options. To review the abstract and purchase the article go to

A friend and Patient Advocate Colleague Teri Dreher published an article titled "10 Ways to Prevent Medical Errors from Happening to You" in the Daily Herald. This article is a good example of how nurses can write to educate the consumer of the challenges they face in today’s healthcare system and how they can be and need to be an active participant in their care to prevent medical errors from occurring. Here is a link to the article

The last recommendation came from the colleague, friend and President and Founder of the National Nurse Empowerment Institute, Eva Francis. Her new book, "50 BUSINESS IDEAS for Health Care Professionals: A Guide for Health Care Business Ownership" is a must read for those looking to move into Independent practice. The book will give you clarity as you embrace your passion in healthcare and do what you love to do best.  If you are ready to launch a healthcare business, you must purchase this book. If you are a Health Care Professional or a business minded person who is passionate about the Health Care System and wants to launch a business, this is a "must read" for you. This book will give you clarity as you embrace your passion in healthcare and do what you love to do best. To review and purchase this book visit

Thanks for reviewing my 2017 Professional Reading list. Please feel free to share this list with your friends, colleagues, and those you feel might benefit! As always, I welcome your input on books that have enhanced your professional practice. If you have a recommendation, feel free to put it in the comment box or email me at 

Added on 7/31/17

A new book was just published by Margaret Spense titled: Leadership Self-Transformation: 52 Career-Defining Questions Every High-Achieving Woman Must AnswerYou can review on Amazon by clicking here

Stefanie Daniels, friend, and colleague send me this note Because I believe that everyone with a career in healthcare - no matter the role - should stay current on the 'business' of managing health, my best book for 2017 is An American Sickness by Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, a medical journalist who formerly worked as a medical doctor. Dr. Rosenthal breaks down the medical industrial complex into the individual industries—the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and drug manufacturers—that together constitute our healthcare system and answers the question of how did healthcare, the caring endeavor, become healthcare, the highly profitable industry? Excellent read and highly recommended.

Ronald Hirsch, MD, FACP, CHCQM shared this note: I will add "Ending Medical Reversal" by Dr. Vinay Prasad. You'll be amazed and shocked at how many "proven" treatments turned out to be worthless. To view on Amazon, click here. 

Dr. Hirsch also reminded me of a book he wrote with Stefani Daniels titled: “The Hospital Guide to Contemporary Utilization Review”. To review on Amazon click here


Monday, July 3, 2017

2017 Summer Reading List

Each summer, for the past eight years I have shared my summer reading list with family, friends, and through Social Media. The practice has become an annual tradition that I enjoy.

This year, I have a wide variety of recommendations from a variety of family and friends from around the country. The reason I write this list each year is that I love to learn about books recommended by friends that I can check-out for my summer reading! I also get to learn about new authors that broaden my scope. Some of the titles have been on previous lists, but are worth repeating.

Summer is a great time to recharge your batteries, relax and learn something new. Reading is one of the ways many of us find to escape from the day-to-day challenges we face in our personal and professional lives. I hope you find a book or two that you can add to your summer reading! So whether you are going to the beach, traveling to a foreign country or just sitting in your backyard, pick a book and enjoy! 

Here we go!

The first person to respond to my request for a good book was my good friend and colleague, Robin Boltz. Her top recommendation for summer reading was "The Illegal," by Lawrence Hill. The book is a fictional work but important story about a war refugee trying to find a place to live in the world. Through the symbolism of running, the author portrays the state of constant fear, alertness, and exhaustion that people living through war sustain. She shared; ‘this book is not a relaxing vacation read, but it made me appreciate the peaceful vacation (and life) that I have.’

Colleague and Facebook friend, Mary Ellen Gervais wrote; “My pleasure reading for the summer is – all mysteries and thrillers. She wrote, I just finished “Into the Water” by Paula Hawkins. It was good. Also loved “The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

My sister-in-law, Trisha Douville suggested “The Rescue at Dead Dog Beach” by Stephen McGarva. She notes; “It was a tough read but enjoyable book for dog lovers. Also, she recommends “The Three Year Swim Club” by Julie Checkoway; is a good non-fiction book.

Long-time Case Management colleague, Stefany Almaden; suggested a book she wrote about her journey to the United States and about being a nurse. “A Blood-Tinged Diary, Culture Crossing” is an intriguing book that described an accurate depiction of the life of a child who was daring enough to dream the biggest dreams. Her existence was tested since birth, and so was the sequence of events that followed into her late teens including death, hardships, losses, and war-time.

Wendell Matas is a colleague who I have been in contact with for year mostly through Facebook took the time to share his recommendation when he was traveling from Washington DC to his home in Seattle WA after a business trip and for that I am grateful. His contribution is “Incompatible with Nature” by Tracie Frank Mayer. He shared he met the author Tracie, her sister and Tracie’s son at a New Year’s Eve Party a year and a half ago. He said he had no idea that this mother/son has such an incredible story of him being born with a defective heart. The story resonated with Wendell because Tracie was a staunch advocate for her son!

Teri Treiger case management friend and colleague shared the book she has been most impressed with this year; “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. Teri shared that each chapter highlights a personal story of someone coming to grips with their mortality. Each example points to the shortcomings or highlights the clinicians involved. A must read for all of us!

Friend, Deborah Johnson suggested: "Ask, and It is Given” by Esther and Jerry Hicks. A wonderful way to move forward in life with joy and fun. Deb notes; “I loved this book, and the processes are transforming."

Laura Ostrosky, a case management colleague, and friend shared that she just finished, “The Nightingale” by Kristen Hannah. Laura shared that the book was hard to put down! "I stayed up much too late finishing it."

Facebook friend, Barbara Hassett-Schoener suggested “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. She also recommended “America’s First Daughter” by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie.

Quotartian sister, Dyan Ruhana suggested, “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult. Also "Commonwealth" by Ann Patches; both drew me in!

Emily McCrater, another Quotarian sister from Fort Lauderdale, finds time to read after her little boy Danielle goes to bed! She wrote, I just read, “The Orphans Tale” by Pam Jenoff and “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult. Both were very good!

Annual contributor, a long-time friend and avid reader, Sandi Greenawalt shot me a quick note with her summer reading recommendations that include: “Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly. "All the Light We Cannot See" which is a beautifully written story that is a must-read by Anthony Doerr. “Mischling” by Affinity Konar, “Truly Madly Guilty” by Liane Moriarty. She also liked, “The Gene” by Siddhartha Mukherjee, “The Light Between Oceans" by M.L. Stedman and The Mountains Echoed, was beautifully written by one of her favorite authors Khaled Hossein.

Good friend, Bonnie Zickgraf recommended: “The People Pill” by Ken Wright

A new author I have been following recently is Lisa Scottoline. She is from Philadelphia and writes thrillers in and around the Philadelphia area. Her books are fast paced and interesting. 

Friend and colleague, Yvonne Beckman shared her favorite reads. They included a mix of fiction and non-fiction. “Euphoria by Lily King" inspired by events of anthropologist Margaret Mead.  A little science and scientists who have feelings too. The backdrop is New Guinea.  Her next recommendation was “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren. This book was about trees, flowers seeds, soil and how things grow and the life of a female scientist with parallel private life experiences.  Last, she recommended “The Brothers Vonnegut: Science and Fiction in House of Magic” by Ginger Strand. The book is about two brothers who live their remarkable lives with integrity. The story spans several decades with a cultural history of WW II and the cold war.  She also recommends anything by Ian McEwan and Kurt Vonnegut.

Connie Phillip Jones case management friend and Philly girl shared her picks for the Summer Reading List: “The Light Between Oceans," by M.L.Stedman, “All the Light We Can Not See” by Anthony Doer, “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi and “Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch.

Long-time friend and colleague, Connie Sunderhaus share that she just read “The Woman in Cabin 10” by Ruth Ware –a good summer read. She also suggested, – ‘Small, Great Things” by Jodi Picoult and “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. Connie said just read it – you’ll be glad you did!

Sandra Stedman, a friend from Water Aerobics, brings a bag of books every few weeks for us all to enjoy suggested; "The Dressmaker, by Elizabeth Birkelund-Oberbeck. The group also liked: “The Alibi by Sandra Brown and “Fool me Once” by Harlan Coben.  Her last suggestion was a good book from Anita Shreve; "Strange Fits of Passion."

A friend I have come to know through my Mahjong group turned me onto; "I am Malala" by Malala Yousafzai and “The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah.

That’s it for 2017! Hope you find a good read. If you have any other suggestions, please note then in the comment box below or email me at Feel free to share this list with your family and friends! Have a great summer! 

I am not a 'beach book' reader so these titles may not appeal to all.  But I found them well written, with a compelling story line and page-turner appeal. 

But must rave for The Gentleman from Moscow by Amor Towles.  I gave it 5 stars on my Goodreads list.  Russian Count Alexander Rostov survives the Bolshevik takeover but sentenced to house arrest.  

Late entry: 

Friend and colleague Stefanie Daniels sent me a note this week with her recommendations and I wanted to add them to this year's summer reading list. She said: I am not a 'beach book' reader so these titles may not appeal to all.  But I found them well written, with a compelling story line and page-turner appeal. Here they are: 

"A Man Called Ove" by Fredrik Backman. This book allows the reader to enter the solitary world of a curmudgeon widower only to find a delicate soul. Next is "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" by Rachel Joyce. This author is a joy to read. The book starts off as Harold sets out to mail a letter and decides to deliver the note in person. Similarly, "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" by Helen Simonson can only be characterized as a charming account of the retired British officer's commitment to defend responsibility and tradition which means he's in a constant state of disappointment. 

Here non-fiction recommendations were:, "Hamilton" by Ron Chernow and "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson held my rapt attention on every page.  Hope you check these recommendations out!