In the last few decades, the East Valley has grown tremendously. Dealing with more people, and more elderly people, presents unique and specific challenges for health care providers. Nurses, especially, shoulder a heavy workload in caring for patients in Mesa and the surrounding area.
May 6-12 is National Nurses Week, a time to recognize the effort put in by nurses to take care of the numerous patients who come to area hospitals, clinics and urgent care centers, in need of medical attention.
Laura Robertson, CEO of Banner Baywood Medical Center, started out 24 years ago as a certified nurse’s assistant and worked her way all the way up the chain. She said nurses face serious challenges in providing care for all the different types of patients they come in contact with while maintaining a focus on skill in specific areas.
“The need for nursing care to be highly focused is a challenge that you specifically see in the East Valley,” said Robertson. “Nursing in any field today, the complexity and uncertainty in health care today, makes any role a challenge. The focus on delivering care outside of the hospital means you have a much shorter time to educate patients.”
She mentioned this specifically in relation to snowbirds, those who come here for significant portions of the year, but maintain a primary provider back home in another state. Educating these patients on how to take care of themselves after an incident while also trying to transfer records back to facilities in other areas is a unique difficulty encountered here in Arizona.
Cheryl Preston works in the surgery center of Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s East Valley Specialty and Urgent Care Center. A nurse for more than 20 years, she said she always had an interest in pediatrics and thought the flexible schedule would work well with her own family.
She went on to say that her area is more predictable than the pediatric intensive care unit she worked in previously, but presents more challenges in the way of dealing with families.
“The child is the patient but the whole family is there,” said Preston. “We are involved with the whole family and our education process, as far as what we do with the kids involves the whole family.”
Preston also said the center’s location is integral to its ability to help families with the stress of taking a child in to the hospital for care.
“For us, it’s a relief to be here because patients don’t have to drive down town. It’s more of a convenience to be here,” Preston said.
Laurel Ciccarello, an advance registered nurse practitioner at one of NextCare’s Urgent Care Clinics in Mesa, summed up what she sees as the three biggest challenges for nurses in the East Valley.
The first is the growing number of large families. Ciccarello said she regularly sees families with four to six children, dealing with four to five patients at once.
“Mom comes in with three kids, baby in the stroller, and the 3 and 5 year old and you can see that can be challenging,” said Ciccarello.
Second is the number of uninsured patients. She says that there are times when she could prescribe five medications, but if the patient can’t afford to have them filled, it does no good.
The third challenge is in dealing with a multi-ethnic, multi-religious community. Adjusting for the special requirements of different faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds is a task nurses must take into account and be prepared for.
“It’s the hardest job you’ll ever love. Nursing takes a lot of dedication, it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s so rewarding when you can touch people’s hearts.”
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