Category Archives: In the News

Headlines for professionals in the nursing and healthcare field.

The Great 100 Nurses

The Great 100 Nurses of Northeast Florida is a non-profit organization devoted to the recognition of excellent nursing in the area. The group achieves this goal through the organization of scholarships, the honoring of local nurses, and the recruitment and support of Floridian nurses.

100 Great NursesThe Great 100 Nurses of Northeast Florida got its start in 2000 due to actions by a coalition of nursing organizations led by District 2 of the Florida Nurses Association. They created the first gala event, raising more than $30,000 with the help of community sponsors.

Since 2000, the Great 100 Nurses of Northeast Florida have put on 5 gala events in celebration of fabulous nurses. Nominations are taken from professional health care workers, patients and their families and community members in order to decide who exceeds expectations through their dedication to excellence at work and desire for further knowledge outside of work via online nursing programs or traditional college. These winners are selected by a panel of nursing peers. The gala events, which are sponsored by businesses and private donors from the community, reward these nurses for their honorable service with good food, awesome entertainment and lots of fun.

In response to the growing health care debt, the Great 100 Nurses of Northeast Florida uses these gala events to additionally find support from the community for a number of nursing scholarships. A 501(c)(3) organization, the Great 100 Nurses of Northeast Florida awards scholarships and grants to health care research projects.

The Great 100 Nurses of Northeast Florida is an awesome resource for health care professionals in the Northeastern Floridian area because they keep a Speakers Bureau of Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Administrators on hand, available to speak to groups in the area.

The concept of Northeast Florida’s Great 100 Nurses is nothing new. In 1998, a registered nurse in North Carolina named Heather Thorne began devising plans for a group that would recognize nursing excellence while bringing more nurses into the fold through scholarships. Since the North Carolinian chapter was founded the group has raised over $140,000 in scholarships.

The Louisiana Great 100 Nurses is also one of the older Great 100 programs. Currently celebrating their twentieth anniversary, health care professionals, patients, families and community members make their nominations with essays applauding the nurses’ accomplishments. Similar to the other Great 100 programs, the money from this incredible anniversary celebration will go towards promoting nursing and increasing the amount of money awarded to scholarship recipients.

Iowa’s program is among the newer of the Great 100 programs. Founded in 2005 by the Iowa Nurses Foundation, all 99 Iowa counties participate in nominating and awarding nurses with this honor. The 100 Great Iowa Nurses and Iowa Nurses Foundation also support nurses by awarding scholarships that range between $500 and $1500. This is paying off in the University of Iowa Hospitals, as those awarded this honor represented 18 University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics at the five year anniversary of the program, that was held in Des Moines in May.

Community Creates Nursing School Scholarship

To try and address the issue of nursing homes and their shortage of staff, a Rochester retirement and nursing home did something about it. They raised money from both their staff and from the community and then awarded 10 of their employees with over $13,000 worth of nursing school scholarships from the money that was raised.

St. Ann’s community agreed to this idea for the first time when the idea was brought up from the human resources department, as well as the foundation for the organizations’ fundraising project. Spokesperson Stephanie Schifano works for the organization, and provided this information, as well as helped handle the massive fundraising organization.

The organization is totally nonprofit, and most of the employees who are there are working towards some type of nursing degree, whether it is ingeriatric nursing, bachelors of nursing or some other type of nursing related program.

There were requirements to be eligible to receive the money that was raised throughout the community and staff. The employee must have been already pursuing a degree in some area of the nursing field with a C average or above in their studies. They had to also agree to stay at St. Ann’s for at least 2 years. This agreement prompted 30 employees to apply for the nursing school scholarship.

The nursing school scholarships that were awarded to the employees of St. Ann’s went to: Annell Boone, a licensed practical nurse; Tina Cenname, a reimbursement nurse specialist; Rachel Holmes, a nursing supervisor; Muriel James, a licensed practical nurse supervisor; Karen Keymel, a universal worker; Glenda King, a team leader; Rola O’Meally, director of adult day and dementia services; Elizabeth Tomaszczuk, a special-care unit nurse leader; Denise Watson, a licensed practical nurse supervisor; and Heather Wojtczak, a licensed practical nurse.

Many congratulations go out to the winners of these nursing school scholarships.

Nursing Students Save Their Own Lives

Two UCF nursing students have learned what it really means to save a life – their own. Kerrie Lynch and Gaby Chaparro, who never met until a week before graduation, both entered the nursing program at the University of Central Florida hoping to make a difference in the health of others, but neither of them ever expected to save their own lives.

nursing-students-cancer
Two nursing students at the University of Central Florida saved their own lives with information they gained in class.

The two women graduated from the University of Central Florida in early August after undergoing the test of a lifetime: cancer. Both Lynch and Chaparro owe their lives today to their education, which provided them with the tools for early detection. After diagnosis in fall of 2008, the women have remained in class, and have graduated this summer.

Lynch, 43, who took classes at the University of Central Florida’s main campus, learned what a breast tumor felt like in a Health Assessment Lab class. The school provided false models and fabricated body parts in order to demonstrate patient evaluation. One of the models had a breast tumor, the feeling of which Lynch noted.

A few months later, while performing her routine self breast exam, Lynch recognized the feel of a “little Jelly Belly underneath the skin.” After visiting the University of Central Florida’s Health Services Center, meeting with doctors and undergoing tests, Lynch’s hunch was found to be correct: she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because the tumor was found so early, she went through three months of chemotherapy and a month and a half of radiation treatment.

Similarly, Chaparro, 27, realized that she had cancer during one of her classes at the University of Central California’s Cocoa campus. After learning about chronic diseases in one of her courses, she recognized the symptoms of colon cancer. However, many gastrointestinal disorders and diseases, like Crohn’s disease and Celiac, present with the same symptoms, so it was difficult to pinpoint what was affecting her. Chaparro had dealt with increasingly painful stomach problems as of summer of 2008, but doctors had ignored her suspicions, as a result of her youth.

As her condition worsened, she visited the UCF Health Services Center, where she was examined by a Nurse Practitioner named Kristina Grabnickas. Noticing Chaparro’s weight loss, Grabnickas referred her to a gastroenterologist, who confirmed Chaparro’s diagnosis of colon cancer. Unlike Lynch, Chapparo’s cancer was not found early, and had already metastasized at this point, making treatment more difficult for her than it had been for Lynch. Chaparro underwent six months of chemotherapy.

Fortunately for both Chaparro and Lynch, their professors, counselors, and nursing peers were understanding of the stress both students were under, and allowed the two to adapt their schedule in order to fit their chemotherapy regimens while remaining on track for graduation. Additionally, the professors arranged for labs and community outreach programs that would not interfere with the women’s suppressed immune systems.

Both Chaparro and Lynch finished treatments for their cancers before graduation. The two now hope to work in hospitals, applying what they’ve experienced in the pursuit of their degrees to their patient care.

U.S. Stimulus for Healthcare Training

As the health care industry grows, due to the aging of the baby boomers, funding has been proposed in order to decrease the effect of healthcare worker and nursing shortages. The United States Labor Secretary, Hilda Stolis, has declared the government’s plans to release 220 million dollars of federal stimulus funds to training programs for workers in the medical industry.

The Labor Secretary revealed plans to stimulate the economy with the bill’s funds while touring the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas and the Shawnee County Community Health Care Clinic in Topeka. These medical centers represent one of the areas hardest hit by the nursing and healthcare worker shortage, as rural areas have difficulty recruiting and retaining workers.

Economists often consider the medical industry recession-proof. There will always be a need for nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers; healthcare is not a luxury that can be put aside in hard times. With baby boomers aging and needing further medical care, the need for these workers will only increase and even with the increased acceptance of online nursing degree programs, the industry still needs help. The Labor Department aims to take advantage of this medical necessity by providing unlucky workers with a chance to start over in a field that is both lucrative and necessary.

While viewing the Kansas medical centers that will be among those improved by the funds from the healthcare training stimulus bill, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis routinely referred to President Barack Obama’s planned healthcare reform bill, that he hopes to make through Congress this summer. This healthcare training fund is a forerunner to those that will follow the President’s bill.

Healthcare reforms bills are particularly important in these difficult to staff rural areas. Training healthcare workers provides an ample job market for the unemployed, and will also help areas like Detroit that have been hard hit due to the changes in the auto industry. More than ten percent of the funds have been earmarked for areas suffering from unemployment as a consequence of auto industry restructuring.

The remainder of the money will to go fund groups that train nurses, workers in medical informatics, allied health careers and hospice care, in both the public and private sectors. More than half of the bill will be used for healthcare projects, with the remainder put towards medical technology and other miscellaneous items. The Labor Department hopes that private donors and foundations will attempt to meet and exceed the funds provided by the stimulus bill, bringing even more money towards health care training programs.

The Labor Department hopes to begin dispersing funds to worthy applicants in the next couple months, with further grants passed out by the end of 2009. Hospitals and departments with training programs already in effect can apply for funds from this stimulus bill through the Labor Department. There is an emphasis on currently effective training programs, so groups that are active now stand a better chance of being selected for stimulus funds than those started after the stimulus was put into effect.

Michigan Nursing Trends

I recently came across a survey published in April that was conducted by the Michigan Center for Nursing, a state-funded agency begun in 2003 to analyze nursing trends. The 23 page report stated some alarming facts many of which point out that not only are current nurses too few, many older nurses are getting ready to retire. Making matters worse Michigan’s nursing schools turned away 4,298 qualified applicants last year, even though the state will face a nursing shortage in a few years. The schools had to turn away students because:

* They didn’t have enough nurses with a Masters in Nursing to train the applicants;
* They need more links with health care institutions where nurses learn clinical skills;
* They lacked classroom space, laboratory facilities, equipment and supplies.

Still, Michigan schools are graduating more nurses — 800 more than in 2003, when the last state survey was conducted, the report said. Last year, 4,756 nurses graduated from Michigan nursing programs. And more RNs are utilizing online platforms to earn their BSN, MSN and other nursing degrees. Unfortunately, even though the schools are graduating more nurses, it’s still not enough to stop or even curtail the nursing shortage downward spiral. The survey found that 42% of Michigan’s full-time nursing school faculty is 55 or older; 14% expect to retire in three years, and 19% in five years.

The survey, conducted by Lansing-based Public Sector Consultants Inc., was based on responses from 49 Michigan nursing schools and 23,000 registered nurses.

Families Struggle with Nursing Home Closure

Genesis Health Care, the company that owns Morrisville Center, a Nursing Home facility in Vermont, is shutting down due to insufficient nursing staff. “It’s pretty straightforward. There’s a national nursing crisis. For about three years we’ve had a very difficult time finding licensed nurses,” explains Pam Elrod of Genesis Health Care. State law requires the facility to have licensed nurses on staff 24 hours a day. There aren’t enough nurses in Vermont, so the company has had to hire temporary nurses from as far away as Mississippi at a great expense to the company. “If you don’t have nurses to hire, you are forced to do what you can to make sure care is given adequately. With 50% of the licensed nurses on staff turning over every thirteen weeks, it’s almost impossible to maintain consistent quality,” says Elrod.

The decision to close the nursing home has put many families in a tough predicament. There are approximately 58 residents looking for new homes. One of the big problems is there are no openings in local nursing homes. There’s such a shortage of nursing homes that some residents are traveling over 50 miles to find nursing facilities that have openings. Other resident’s are opting to stay home and utilize the services of a Home Health Nursing. Some families are seeking out professional Geriatric Care Managers to assist them with their long-term care issues. With the nursing shortage crisis only worsening with each passing day, families have to re-adjust their thinking to find alternative solutions to this ongoing problem.

Project Working Mom Scholarships

Many working mothers would like to go back to school and receive a higher education, but just don’t feel that they have the time or the resources to make that happen. eLearners.com, which is a website of EducationDynamics, set out to make the dream of a higher education a reality for many women with their Project Working Mom scholarships program. The program received more than 50,000 applications for full ride scholarships that would allow working mothers to go back to school.

eLearners.com teamed up with several other resources such as American InterContinental University, Devry University, and Walden University to give away more than two million dollars in full ride scholarships. The scholarships are meant to empower women to make positive changes to their lives and the lives of their children. To date, education paths have led to online nursing degrees, culinary programs, business administration and more.

Project Working Mom scholarships are needed much more than the average person may even realize. According to statistics, children who have parents with a higher level of education usually grossly outperform the children whose parents do not have this education. While the two million in full ride scholarships will not help every mother out there get the education she needs to make a change, it will help many make positive changes in their lives and the lives of their children.

Project Working Mom scholarships are useful for the women who want to go back to school, but cannot go back full time. The American Council on Education has reported that part time students often do not qualify for financial aid; in fact, as few as 35% of part time students receive any financial aid. The Project Working Mom scholarships will help many mothers get the funding they need for even part time education. The scholarships are even helpful for those that want to get an online degree, which is ideal for many working mothers, as it allows them to continue working and caring for their children while advancing their education.

In addition to the two million dollars in full ride scholarships, Project Working Mom also features a database of $15 billion in scholarship opportunities. These scholarships will allow women to get the funding they need so they can see a higher education as a part of their life. While the Project Working Mom scholarships may only be a Band-Aid® for a larger problem, it will put many mothers through school that will hopefully go on to inspire their children to be the best they can be in the future.

Schwarzenegger Commits $93 Million to Nursing Schools

Colleges are desperately trying to ease the nursing shortage by adding additional spots for qualified applicants and expanding nursing educational opportunities. Pasadena City College, for example, recently added 10 spots to its class, but it still averages more than 500 applications for its 60 available spots each fall and spring. California has begun taking steps in the right direction, nursing advocates say. Last year, Gov. Schwarzenegger committed $93 million in grants to nursing schools to hire educators and increase class sizes. And a recently signed nursing education bill from state Sen. Jack Scott, D-Pasadena, will aim to increase available resources for institutions and pay for nurses going back to school to become teachers.

Experts say many would-be nurses are being locked out of the industry because of stagnation in the growth of nursing-education programs and limited enrollment capacity in existing programs. The 117 colleges and universities statewide with registered nursing programs have reported as many as 100 applicants per opening at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels said Trisha Hunter, executive director of the American Nurses Association of California in Sacramento. While 80 percent of nurses have no more than associate degrees, most teaching jobs at the registered nurse level require a master’s or doctoral degree. There are just 30 bachelor’s programs and seven Masters in nursing programs statewide in California, and many are at more costly private schools.

Area Hospitals Still Feel Katrina’s Effects

It’s been 17 months since hurricane Katrina ripped through the Mississippi Gulf Coast area causing severe damage costing billions of dollars in new construction. Lives were forever changed in the wake of Katrina’s devastating aftermath and even now area businesses, hospitals, and its people are still trying to recover.

Many of the hospitals still have yet to fully recover. Singing River Hospital is having workforce issues in the form of a nursing shortage. Singing River hospital along with Ocean Springs Hospital lost nearly 200 nurses after Katrina. Since then both hospitals have managed to replace most of lost nursing staff, however there are still 45 outstanding positions that haven’t been replaced. “We are managing the shortage by offering greater incentives for our nurses and relying on their willingness to pull us through this situation,” noted Chris Anderson, System CEO. “The hospital is trying to combat the problem by expanding the recruiting area and being more creative in seeking out qualified candidates.”

The hospital has partnered with the University of Southern Mississippi to help nurses with associate’s degrees complete their college course load to obtain higher degrees. Many nurses are in the process of completing theRN to BSN program and through the partnering effort are additionally being encouraged to pursue their Masters in Nursing degree. The classes, Anderson said, allow the hospital to retain nurses who are hoping to gain more medical education, who might otherwise leave the field for that training.

The good news is that the hospital is bouncing back from the storm, and was recognized nationally for that effort. The hospital was named one of Sulucient’s Top 100 Performance Improvement Leaders for the second year in a row.

Presidential Forum on Health Care

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and The Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) are sponsoring the very first presidential forum of the 2008 election focused solely on health care. New Leadership on Health Care: A Presidential Forum will take place Saturday, March 24th at 9:30 a.m. in the Cox Pavilion at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Presidential candidates who have confirmed are: Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Chris Dodd, Sen. John Edwards, Sen. Mike Gravel, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Sen. Barack Obama, and Gov. Bill Richardson. Invitations have been extended to every Republican and Democratic presidential candidate.

Karen Tumulty, National Political Correspondent for TIME, will moderate the forum and ask the candidates questions about the issue, giving them a platform to discuss how they will address our nation’s health care crisis. With 47 million Americans uninsured, and the nation in the grips of a nursing and nurse educator shortage, few issues will be as important to Americans in the 2008 presidential election as health care coverage.

“Working people all across this country want to know what the next president is going to do to make health care more affordable and accessible for their families. The time is past for incremental reform – what we need is an American solution to fix our broken health care system,” said Andy Stern, President of SEIU. “This is an opportunity for all of the presidential candidates to show voters that they will provide a new kind of leadership that gets results on health care reform.”