Meet the Nurses Behind the Magnet Pin
At UAB, our nurses have many stories—of hope, caring, strength, and innovation. Our patients—and their families—are at the heart of what we do. We are strong and calm during stressful situations. We are innovators and are always striving to serve our patients in the best way we can. Meet five UAB nurses who make a difference in the lives of patients and their families every day and who helped UAB Hospital recently achieve our third consecutive designation as a Magnet facility. As a Magnet facility, UAB is one of only 400 hospitals in the world recognized for excellence in nursing.
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Care for the Patient—and Family
“When patients come to the Intensive Care Unit, it is a scary time for their families. As nurses, we are providing care not only for the patient, but the entire family. Our unit has adopted open visitation for families for this very reason. Allowing families to visit their loved one is reassuring for the patient and provides a more positive experience for the family and our staff.
"I always make a purpose of going in and out of work through our ICU waiting room to get a gauge of how the unit is going. Since we’ve implemented open visitation, the tension in the waiting room has dropped significantly. I’ve always wanted to have open visiting. Do you want to be surrounded by strangers, or by people that love you? I’d want to be surrounded by the people who love me.”
Larry Dean, Nurse Manager, Neurosurgery Intensive Care Unit
Strength During Tragedy
“On an average 24-hour shift, we might see eight trauma patients; On April 27, 2011, we saw 44 in less than two hours. At 5pm, our ER physician called to see if we were aware of the tornado in Tuscaloosa and asked me to find a television. Before I hung up, she said she was on her way and that we needed to get ready. As our shift change approached, we handed off some of the responsibility to the night shift, but most of us stayed to take care of the influx of patients—even though we couldn’t wait to get home and check on our own loved ones. Ambulances arrived with patients on their cots, plus that patient’s whole family in the truck. They were picked up from where their house used to be.
"Many had lost everything and were just happy they had their family. Sometimes there were family members in the ambulance who needed more attention than the patient the EMS was called to get. That day pulled us outside of our comfort zone because we had people and things we wanted to check on, yet these absolute strangers are showing up who have nothing, need somebody to be nice to them and care for them and ask them if they are okay. That’s where we were supposed to be. We just had to hope and pray that the Lord was watching our families and our homes, because that wasn’t where we were supposed to be; we were at work that day.”
Lea Hall Melvin, RN, BSN, CEN, CN, charge nurse, Emergency Services
Caring for Baby Boomers
"At UAB, nurses teach nurses; nurses empower nurses. In our Geriatric Scholars program, we teach our nurses how to provide the best care possible for our older adult patients. People are living longer and are living longer well, and we have to be prepared to care for their unique needs. Our scholars are applicants who have expressed interest in caring for geriatric patients.
"Their role is to become educated in caring for the geriatric patients, and later act as a consultant for any nurse on their unit and throughout the hospital who needs help caring for a geriatric patient. When you’re dealing with an older patient, you have to make sure that you take time to get to know them and help them feel comfortable with you. We have an “all about me” board where we ask them questions, “what do you like to be called, when do you prefer to have your bath, what temperature do you prefer?” Even when patients have dementia and do not know their names, they still deserve respect, kindness, and conversation, even if they can’t converse back with you. These people lived full lives and have done great things—and they deserve our respect."
Kim Ayers, RN, nurse manager, Center for Psychiatric Medicine
Innovation for our Smallest Patients
“I think taking care of the really small, really sick babies in the NICU is definitely something you’ve got to have in your heart. There absolutely are emotional ups and downs, and it takes a very passionate person to be able to go through that on a daily basis. We have a nursing practice congress, where if a nurse sees an issue on her unit that she thinks is a nursing practice issue, she can submit it to the congress.
"The congress forms a pact made up of nurse representatives who look at the issue—and innovative ways they can resolve it. It really takes our bedside nurses’ input into how these issues are resolved. It takes a really innovative nurse to keep fighting that battle, never give up, and know that we can always get better.”
Brandi L. Duke, BSN, RN, nurse manager, Women & Infants Services