With nursing shortages, family is a vital part of the team

It’s a problem when you have to queue at the grocery store because there is a shortage of cashiers.

The understaffing situation is much more serious when the waiter is an inpatient who needs pain relievers (or a pelvis) without anyone responding to the call light.

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Yes, it does happen occasionally, but not recently at the hospital where my mother is hospitalized. Nurses, with six or seven assigned patients each, and licensed practical nurses, with an even heavier patient workload, manage to answer the call.

Despite the difficult circumstances of this seemingly endless pandemic, doctors, nurses and nursing assistants are providing wonderful care.

“Staffing, especially nurses, has been an issue for as many years as I can remember,” Jaime Caldwell, president of the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association, recently told ABC News. “But the pandemic made a perfect storm in a way – we saw some nurses retire, others leave because of the risks the job involved, and others leave the field due to increased shifts. of work. “

The American Nurses Association, which represents 4.2 million nurses nationwide, recently urged the United States Department of Health and Human Services to declare the current and unsustainable nursing shortage facing our country. a national crisis.

Appropriate nursing staffing – in a hospital or long-term care facility – is crucial for optimal results. The following is an excerpt from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses’ “Guiding Principles for Appropriate Staffing”:

“Appropriate staffing ensures an effective match between the needs of the patient and family and the knowledge, skills and abilities of nurses. Evidence confirms that the likelihood of serious complications or death increases when fewer RNs are assigned to patient care. A substantial body of evidence indicates that better patient outcomes occur when RNs provide a higher proportion of hours of care in healthy work environments.

Robert Anderson, former president of the National Adult Protective Services Association and program director of Florida DCF Adult Protective Services, emphasizes family involvement in care.

“Having the family as a regular visitor to a loved one in a long-term care facility not only brings joy and security to the resident, but sends a subtle message to staff that that person has people. who care about her, ”Anderson said. “It can improve the resident’s care and make the family more comfortable with the already difficult circumstance of having their loved one in a facility.”

Hospitals and long-term care facilities can use this help, that’s for sure. But from the perspective of this visitor in my mother’s room at the end of the hospital corridor, the workers appear to be running a 4×100-meter relay race.

They move fast.

They work fast.

Likewise, as a family, we try to be quick. We arrive quickly at the hospital, as soon as the visits open. And we make sure mom’s needs are met in a timely manner, as per the guidelines of the hospital visitor policy.

In addition to occasionally seeking out assigned medical personnel (tactfully, preferably because they are busy) for a lingering call light, a family member may provide simple comfort measures like repositioning a pillow. or a blanket, the organization of personal items on the bed table (cell phone, glasses, handkerchiefs, etc.) and, of course, emotional support.

A family member can help make up for deficiencies in sometimes unappealing hospital food. (No, mom doesn’t like hospital food.)

My brother brought cottage cheese to go with mom’s peaches.

My sister brings spaghetti and meatballs.

No, the siblings are not runway stars.

Marc Ryan

Mark Ryan from Tallahassee is a registered nurse.

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