A Day in Her Shoes
It’s just before 7 a.m. and Kimberly Martin, RN, is cradling a tall cup of coffee. “I have an hour and twenty minute drive to get here,” she says, “I need this!”
Though early, Martin is smiling and ready to start her day in the neuroscience intensive care unit (NSICU) at LVH–Cedar Crest. Before that happens, she provides a quick NSICU orientation for me and my colleague, Jenny Miletics, digital engagement specialist with LVHN. We have been paired with Martin for LVHN’s Spend a Day with a Nurse experience.
“We care for a range of patients, including those who have brain tumors or conditions like myasthenia gravis, or people who have experienced a stroke. We also provide care for kidney transplant recipients who need ICU care,” Martin says.
Due to the complex nature of neurological conditions, NSICU nurses care for two patients per shift. While receiving her shift report from Jenna Jakielaszek, RN, who covered the night shift, a fall risk alarm sounds. Both nurses run to the patient’s room to ensure the patient (who is now under Martin’s watch) doesn’t actually get out of bed and risk falling.
Another nurse looks in to make sure no additional help is needed. And it is that spontaneous collaboration that sets the tone for the day: Not only do nurses look out for each other, an entire team of health professionals and NSICU team members are there for patients and each other.
“There is so much collaboration with physicians, nurses, administrative team members and therapy professionals – your input and critical thinking are valued here,” Martin says.
That statement is echoed by Martin’s supervisor, Donald (DJ) Butz, RN, director of patient care services in the NSICU. “We couldn’t do what we do without collaboration,” he says.
Team care in NSICU
Collaborative rounds are a key part of the neuroscience ICU day. During these rounds, a physician, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech therapist, case management social worker, nutrition care colleague, pastoral care representative and Butz, join the charge nurse to speak with each patient’s nurse about the patient’s status and plans for the day.
“Everyone contributes to these discussions and helps ensure everyone is on board with what the patient needs today,” Martin says.
Collaborative rounds also provide nurses with information to share with family members. Whether a family meeting needs to be scheduled to discuss next steps, or patient and/or family teaching must occur, the nurse helps expedite and facilitate communication.
In addition to clinical care, there is the personal, one-on-one compassionate care that is a hallmark of Martin and her colleagues. “I am there as their nurse, and will educate them about where, clinically, the patients is now and what is next,” she says, “but I will also be there emotionally for them. They need someone to hold their hand or give them a hug – some assurance that we care. We do care.”
Helping patients accelerate from where they are when admitted to NSICU to their next level is the driving force behind Martin and her colleagues. As Martin describes it, a great day is signified by the smallest of movements. “When a person awakes from a coma and they can wiggle their toes or fingers, you cheer for them!”