Everyone at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital (BRRH) is rallying around our nurses this month, acknowledging their critical role in the life of the hospital and the lives of our patients and their families. May 6-12 is National Nurses Week, a time when we focus on these true superheroes of healthcare.
Anyone who has been a patient comes to understand very quickly after they are admitted to the hospital, that nurses are key in ensuring a patient’s timely care, their safety, and their overall sense of wellbeing. In order to be a highly skilled nursing professional, you must be completely committed to engaging in ongoing training and education, as care protocols are ever-changing, managing constantly shifting patient needs, and serving not just as a caregiver to every patient, but an advocate.
Our nursing team is second to none in all of these regards. The responsibilities of nursing are substantial and demanding, but our nurses embrace them, as they proactively create workarounds for any challenges that come their way. For example, nurses have been asked to pivot time and time again over the last two years as they met, head on, the challenges of caring for patients during a once-in-a-century pandemic.
The nurses of BRRH helped to create alternative ways, for example, that families and loved ones could visit patients during the darkest days of the pandemic when in-person visits were not possible for us to allow.
HCA Healthcare is committed to nurse education and supporting nurses as they advance their training, education, and careers. Nursing is an exciting career path too, because in addition to the bedside nursing career path, nurses fill administrative and leadership, educator, and quality and safety positions at facilities across the country. The healthcare industry has realized that nurses’ voices and perspectives should be heard at every level, since they are so central to the patient experience.
BRRH works with local nursing schools, including Mayland Community College, Lees-McRae College, Mars Hill University, AB tech, and others to ensure that we have a seamless transition to employment for nurses through our HCA Healthcare StaRN program. It is a residency opportunity that offers classroom, online, and hands-on education so new RNs can be ideally prepared to work in various specialties under the Medical Surgical specialty umbrella. There is also a corresponding program for CNAs called StarTECH.
We see each day at BRRH the invaluable role nurses play in every way in the operation of the hospital and the lives of our patients. A well-known study published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) entitled, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health confirmed the indispensable work nurses do that contributes to positive patient outcomes, reduced infection rates, and fewer medication errors.
Nurses are asked to manage the care and increasingly complex needs of a wide range of patients, and they must master advanced technology and patient information management platforms, like the Electronic Health Record (EHR), which is the digital “master chart” for each patient. They also treat and manage patients in different ways, depending on where they serve, such as the surgical suite, the Emergency Department, Outpatient services (infusions, Cardiac Rehab/Stress procedures and testing, etc.). No matter what type of work a nurse who provides clinical care performs, they must communicate and coordinate tasks within the context of a more expansive care team and continuum of care.
Nurses certainly deserve our accolades and appreciation, particularly after the last two harrowing years. They are called to the work, and we have planned a variety of ways to honor our BRRH nurses during the month of May. I know our community joins me as I salute this extraordinary group of caregivers. Our nursing team’s expertise and unmatched compassion enable us to access that “close to home” care we are so fortunate to have.
We celebrate every BRRH team member as well, during National Hospital Week, which is May 8-14. Just as with our nurses, the critical part that every healthcare worker has played as we faced the challenges of the pandemic was highlighted uniquely these past two years. Our team members’ diverse skills and talents, as well as their unparalleled dedication, are what they so wholeheartedly give to their patients, every day. We are very fortunate at BRRH to be blessed with the very best and most caring of teams.
Tonia W. Hale, DNP, MAOM, BSN, RN, is Chief Executive Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine. Hale is a proven leader with 35 years of progressive healthcare experience. A native of East Tennessee, she holds an associate’s degree in nursing from Walters State Community College, a baccalaureate degree in nursing from the University of Tennessee, a master’s degree in organizational management from Tusculum University, and a doctor of nursing practice degree in executive leadership from East Tennessee State University. Ms. Hale is currently a resident of Burnsville.