For the talent portion of the Miss America contest this year, Kelley Johnson performed a monologue about her work as a nurse and her relationship with an Alzheimer’s patient. The next day, the hosts of The View criticized Miss Colorado’s performance. Host Joy Behar’s asked, “Why does she have a doctor’s stethoscope on?”
IN 1975 Shirley Dinnerstein, a 64-year-old Massachusetts woman, learned she had Alzheimer’s disease. Three years later she was in an “essentially vegetative state,” according to her case records, and a court was deciding whether to honor her previously expressed wish not to be resuscitated if she died. The court ruled in her favor, establishing, for the first time, that patients’ care choices at the end of life could be officially documented in the medical record without being validated in court.
“Theresa, you gonna sit, you gonna eat.” My orientation for hospice nursing didn’t cover this — an Italian grandmother who was clearly not going to talk to me about her dying husband unless I sat at the dinner table with her family and ate. Well, when in Rome, I decided, and obediently pulled up a chair.
How current care for the very old and dying fails patients—and what might be done. Article available online for subscribers.
“I’m just the nurse.” I blurted it out during a role-play at the start of nursing school. “Never say that,” my instructor corrected, “there is no such thing as ‘just a nurse.’” She’s right, but even though nurses are named the “most trusted profession” year after year in Gallup polls, and even though our importance to quality care is well documented, our value is often under-recognized in the health care system as a whole. H.R. 379, the National Nurse Act of 2015, could help change that.
Theresa Brown: Many view Obamacare as a government intrusion into individual lives -- but they are mistaken
It’s an odd thing, to take care of someone who is chained to a bed, guarded 24/7 by bored corrections officers idling away time with TV and card games, who cannot receive visitors or even phone calls. But it happens when prison inmates are sick enough that they need care that only a hospital can provide.
Theresa's co-authored article in JAMA is available online for subscribers.
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF NURSING - What I'm Reading: When Business and Government Put Profits Before Patients
Back in the day, nurses will tell you, if a doctor came into a room and no chair was available for him, a nurse would have to give up her seat. Those days are long gone, but for a long time, nurses didn't have a guaranteed seat at the health care policy table—until now.