Nurses are integral to our health

I’m a late career nurse who moved from acute care to public health 11 years ago.

Our family experienced up close and personally what is happening in acute care recently at the very hospital that I was proud to work at for greater than 20 years.Our family member was ‘admitted-no bed’ in the emergency department of the local hospital; he never received a bath (except for the one I provided in the patient washroom) and he took his own vitals (he is also a retired RN).

I could see the anguish on the faces of the nurses I used to work with; they were apologetic, embarrassed and stressed by the conflict within them. They couldn’t provide basic care!

They were just ‘putting out fires’ all over the department. I felt anxious and compelled to provide care to the others in his four bed holding area but of course I couldn’t as a non-employee.

Our family member recovered and was discharged but that turmoil remained. My daughter, a new RN grad, witnessed all of this and was appalled. Similar work environments will be her future and ours.

When we, as professional nurses, are stressed not only by the work environment but by our own inner conflict of knowing we aren’t providing the care we should, there is a double edged issue with cut backs. Patients suffer, nurses suffer and the entire health care system suffers. Patients that need hospitalization are admitted because they need nursing care.

Registered Nurses are integral to our health; we are the eyes and ears for the patients 24/7.