Friday, February 22, 2013

RN Goes Above and Beyond for Homeless Post-op Patients

By E'Louise Ondash, RN

I may be biased, but I think nurses are the most amazing people--especially those men and women who not only do their jobs and but go above and beyond.

I recently read about one such nurse in my area who saw a problem and fixed it, at no gain to herself except the good feeling she gets knowing that her patients are resting easier and recovering better than they might have otherwise.

The nurse is Valerie Swain and she is currently a charge nurse in the OR at a hospital in San Diego County. The story about her contribution recently ran in our local newspaper. Her accomplishment: helping establish a safe, clean place where homeless people who have undergone outpatient surgery can recuperate.

It was in 2008 when, as an outpatient surgery nurse, Swain first realized that homeless post-op outpatients had nowhere to go except to a car, if they were lucky, a tent or perhaps a spot under a bridge somewhere. She found the situation unacceptable and began searching for a solution.

Some time passed, and awhile later Swain began volunteering with a local, nonprofit charity that helps homeless individuals and families get back on their feet. She discovered the charity’s program for homeless veterans recovering from surgery, and, in it, saw a ready-made solution; the program just needed expansion. The new-and-improved center opened in October, and its costs are covered by the two local hospitals from which the patients come.

“It’s going to be cheaper to have these patients go through recuperative care than to keep coming through the ER and costing a boatload of money,” Swain told a reporter. “When I was doing the statistics, there were some patients who would come into the ER, stay for three days, be out for two days and come back in – like a revolving door.”

Patients in the new recuperation center receive food, medications, help with follow-up appointments and a daily visit by a nurse. Stays average about two weeks, but Swain is searching for funding that will allow longer stays.

Somehow I think she’ll find it.

Have you or someone you know gone above and beyond to solve a problem in the workplace or your community?

Tell us about it.

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