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Sunday, December 18, 2016

My Year End Review




The end of the year gives us a chance to evaluate our work to see how we are doing, what changes we want to make for next year and gauge the value we are receiving for our efforts. Nurse Advocate has had the same goal since it started. To share information that consumers, caregivers and all members of the healthcare team can use to improve the delivery of care.

In reviewing my metrics from the various social media sites where I post my Blog, I know that I am reaching a broad audience both national and internationally. Post are being opened and viewed by many. The best and most meaningful metrics that I value are the comments that come from the readers. They are insightful and allows me to know that I am covering the right topics that are valuable to the audience. Not everyone agrees with my thoughts, but those comments are valuable as they help me see the issue from a different point of view and allows me to consider additional points of view.

For the last issue of the year, I chose the top 10 posts for 2016 to share with you as we end the year. If you missed them, this is a chance for you to read them. Please feel free to share with your family members, colleagues, and friends. If you are in charge of professional development at your organization, feel free to use any of the posts from Nurse Advocate as a teaching tool for your staff as appropriate. Ok, let's look at the top 10 posts for 2016. 

This post was conceived when I met a friend from nursing school at a wedding. She was with her husband standing off to the side in a quiet part of the church. I went over to say hello, and she had a blank stare when she looked at me. I knew she had early Alzheimer's and had been failing. Her husband shared she does not recognize many people; she is getting worse and needs total support with her ADL's. I asked him how he was doing and he said was tired and sad. I knew he loved his wife with all his heart as they had always been very much in love. During the Mass, as the priest read the wedding vows to the couple getting married it dawned on me how important those vows are and how so many of us take them for granted. My friend was living his vows day in and day out by caring for his wife.  As I was writing this post, an idea came to me to develop a Facebook page so Caregivers could communicate their frustrations and challenges and gain support or information they can use. I knew the message got through from this comment: “Great post-Anne and wonderful idea in providing a way for the caregiver to stay connected!

Caring for the Caregiver: The Unsung Heroes of the Healthcare System  Caregiving struck a chord with many readers as they see the important role they play in advocating and helping their loved ones with so many of the challenges they face. I was glad this post was well received as well as the tips provided hit home with so many people. This comment showed me how we never know when we will have to put our lives on hold to become a caregiver for a loved one or a friendThese are great tips! I know it is not nearly as intense... yet, I had to take care of my husband who burned his hand severely on the job last May. He was out of work for two weeks, and it was a TON of work to take care of him. This is an excellent article. Thank you for recognizing these heroes!”

Reconnecting to your purpose in Healthcare With healthcare in turmoil, this post is worth repeating. I wrote this post after hearing Dr. Don Berwick speak at a conference and urging all members of the healthcare team to take the time to reconnect with their purpose. If we remember why we became in involved in healthcare it will keep us centered regardless of what changes were made. This comment from a physician reinforced the message as he reflected on the importance of working as a team and not going it alone. It takes a team to care for a patient. The better we can work together, the better care we can provide. “I have been blessed with good nurses all my life. When the office has been chaotic or has been made chaotic by supervision or powers that be as you mention, I have been able to focus on patient and team. Forgot that for a while but when it becomes clear that help is not on the way, time to see a patient and get connected to what matters. You often receive back more than you give - and without trying to force satisfaction. Sometimes a particular patient can sustain you through a trying time, like a year of residency.

The Joys of Travel as a Disabled Person Traveling is difficult for the abled body person, yet for someone who is disabled from a heart condition, a respiratory disease, an orthopedic condition, or neuropathy travel is much more challenging. I wrote this article after traveling myself for the first a time. I also had a phone interview with a reporter from the Wall Street Journal who was writing an article on the impact of expanding airports on the disabled. He only used one of the many examples I gave him, so I decided to expand on the topic in this Nurse Advocate. The post inspired comments from professionals charged with helping people with disabilities travel as well those who are disabled themselves. Here is one of the comments that hit home:  “Anne, great post and thanks sharing your experience. As a disabled person, of many years, you are correct, most organizations have expanded the ways and means of assisting disabled folks. A couple of things with air travel, you can identify connection times to make sure you have enough - if you cannot get a direct flight. While travel can change, I always look for at least 1.5 hours. Makes the trip longer but less worry. Also, if I am not in an aisle seat, I inform my seat mates that due to my disability I have to get up quite a bit. Often people will switch with me, and at least they are not surprised. I inform the flight attends too.”

Five Incredible Gifts of a Life Changing Illness Sometimes time gives you a clearer perspective on what is important when diagnosed with a life changing illness. Many of the comments were 'thank you' messages to me for sharing my story and how my words have empowered others. But for me being able to share my experience has been therapeutic and a reason why I had to go through such a difficult time. I am grateful to have come through my journey on the positive side. Here is one of the comments that touched me:Anne - this post is a gift, too. We're all so happy and grateful you came through all your treatment as well as you did. It's so good to have you "back"! Thank you for sharing your experiences and resulting gifts - all good reminders as we live through the difficulties of life, no matter how big or how small.”
  
Medical Errors: A Matter of Life and Death I wrote this post after I experienced a Medical Error. I was ok, but the experience showed me the importance of direct communication with the physician versus the medical assistant who ‘runs the office.' I was surprised that so many people shared their story of their medical error experience. I should not have been surprised because I know that Medical Errors is now the 3rd leading cause of death in this US. To me, this is unacceptable that with all of the expertise in healthcare, we cannot get a handle on medical errors. We have to do better. Here is one of the comments: Everyone has to be vigilant, be alert and speak up and ask questions to help bend this curve. We are living in a dangerous time, and it will take the entire healthcare team to change the course. Hi, Anne. I am so sorry to hear that you had to go thru this. I too have been a victim of a medical error. It took place at my podiatrist's office - a "routine, simple incision" which became infected in that office due to the unsterile environment. The bacteria latched onto a small screw I had in my foot. The result was two surgeries where they dug out the infection leaving a large open wound that needed to heal from the inside out. A 5-day hospitalization and umpteen appointments with the infectious disease doc. A port was placed in my arm delivering two daily one hour drips of vancomycin into my heart as I had developed osteomyelitis. I couldn't walk on my foot for weeks. It was a painful, scary and angry time in my life and I now do everything I can to keep others from having to go through that or anything similar. We need to speak up about the dangers of medical treatments and try to make it a safer place for patients.”

 The Last Dance: Encountering Death and Dying, this post was written after a friend of mine suddenly lost her mother. Coincidently, during a meeting for a project I was working on, I met the creator of the Actual Dance on a teleconference call. He shared a link so we could all watch the Dance to decide if we wanted his to present at the upcoming conference. I learned he wrote the Dance when his wife was diagnosed with Breast cancer and how hearing those words changed his life. He put his feeling into the project and has taken it around the country to support caregivers who hear life changing news and wonder what they are going to do next. Here is what one reader shared in her father's end of life experience. "Thanks for sharing this article. I experienced the power of the advance health care directive document with my Dad's passing last week. It was comforting to witness that his end of life wishes was respected and he had a peaceful journey. It was also a great opportunity for me to reinforce the conversation with my Mom, my siblings, and my family regarding our end of life wishes. We need not be afraid to talk about death as it is part of life.” I think the message is to be prepared and share with our loved one what those wishes are. This will allow a peaceful transition to our next step in the circle of life. 

Moving Forward, I wrote this article after the recent presidential election to ‘put out a call to action' to all as our new president makes his cabinet selections and to be vocal about policy changes that impact our lives. I hope the President-Elect Trump does well, because if he does, we all do. As he an outsider to politics it is my hope he surrounds himself with people who do have expertise in the individual areas of Government they have been asked to serve. I was impressed with comments as many people are being open minded and keeping a positive attitude as we move forward. Here is an example; “I think many nurses are anxious to see how health care will be transformed under this new administration. Let's keep a positive attitude into the New Year and beyond!”

The Teachable Moment As a nurse who became a patient I realized the more information I received, the better I understood the plan of care and what to expect. It took some of the fear out what I was experiencing and allowed me to regain some control over my life which helped me cope. The comments from readers let me know I hit a cord and showed me that many healthcare professionals are looking for those teachable moments. “Fabulous "Teachable Moments" Anne it is wonderful how you can turn your experiences into more of them! :) In reading your examples, I could almost FEEL a shift as you went from being an object of care/treatment to being engaged in an active roll. I could ALMOST put myself in your shoes and hope this post is spread far and wide. Reminds me of a Plato quote: "All learning has an emotional basis"! Involving and empowering patients is so critical to providing excellent care!”

Nursing Claims Data: What does it tell us? I wrote this post after a webinar on nursing claims data. The goal of the program was how using data to identify liability patterns and trends to help nurses understand their areas of greatest vulnerability and to take appropriate action to protect patients from harm and nurses from potential litigation. Today, we have a way to evaluate how we are doing, where areas of strength and where weaknesses are so we can make corrections as part of our processes improvement efforts. Those who commented on the post shared their insights on the topic which made the post valuable. Here’s one, “Great advice. This is something that all new grads need to be educated about. They also need to have the opportunity to get familiar with policies and have the opportunity to spend time with a Risk Manager.”

In 2017 I plan to continue the mission of Nurse Advocate but with more ‘calls to action’ so all readers (consumers, caregivers, and all members of the healthcare team) are empowered to do their part to improve the role they play as members of the healthcare team. I hope you will join me on the journey!

Thank you for being a loyal reader of Nurse Advocate. If you have topics you would like to see covered in Nurse Advocate. Please feel free to email your ideas and comments to allewellyn48@gmail.com. 

So as I close out 2016, I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


See you in January!