Harnessing school nurses to cut absenteeism

Community leaders came together at the University of Memphis to discuss the alarming number of absences tallied in the city’s school system last year — many a result of poverty-related chronic illness, according to chalkbeat.org. Last year, 44,000 Memphis, Tenn., students reported suffering from a chronic health condition, resulting in 18 percent of students missing at least 18 days of class in Shelby County Schools. Tennessee law requires only one nurse for every 3,000 students, and budget cuts have made staffing nurses impossible in the county. “Parents aren’t comfortable that their children will be properly cared for at school,” said Angela Hargrave, the district’s director of attendance and discipline. And it’s true. Nurses are forced to rotate across the district, allowing each school a single day of staffing a week. And that’s not enough, said Hargrave.

Stop the violence

The Joint Commission recently released a new resource to help hospitals to combat violence in the workplace. Developed in response to stats showing higher rates of such incidents in health care compared with other fields, the accreditation org’s new toolkit includes resources such as sample easy-to-access policies, procedures, guidelines, research and case studies. Those working in the field are about five times more likely to be victims of violent acts than those in other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “As a result, it is critical that we share key resources with those in the health care community to help them prepare for and address, as well as hopefully prevent, this type of unfortunate situation from taking place,” Ann Scott Blouin, R.N., executive vice president of customer relations at the Joint Commission, said in a press release.

Thanking nurses for their work

It was a simple act — letting a mother walk down the hospital hall to tuck in her just-deceased, 26-year-old son one last time. But that small act has touched more than half a million people across the country months later. As thanks for the nurse and hospital’s help in coping with her son’s death, Kathy Taylor, 61, wrote a heartfelt, 10-page thank you letter, relating her experience, USA Today reports. Health First Holmes Regional Medical Center in Viera, Fla., turned that letter into a video called “It’s a Nurse,” which has gone viral with nearly 540,000 views. Getting through the video without shedding a tear is nearly impossible, the article notes.  

Rapid Fire

Here are a few more nurse-related items of note that caught our eye over the past week:

  • Boston writer Peter DeMarco wrote another heartfelt letter to ICU nurses and other staff of CHA Cambridge Hospital, who cared for his 34-year-old wife after she suffered a severe asthma attack that later took her life.
  • In yet another example of a MacGyver of nursing, after trauma RN Joseph Tanner was dragged off his surfboard in Oregon by a shark, he treated himself once he got near the shore, asking observers if they saw “spurting blood,” Fox News reports.
  • Finally, read about how one Australian nurse fought back after being told she was “just a nurse.”