Stories about: Nurses

Prepared for anything

In the early 1970s, an Eastern Air Lines flight crashed into the Florida Everglades, killing 99 people on board. It was later discovered that the crash happened because the flight crew was overly fixated on a burnt-out indicator light—they were so focused on trying to fix the malfunctioning light that they failed to notice the plane’s autopilot was disengaging. With time the plane slowly lost altitude and eventually crashed.

Like the nurses around me, I listen in stunned silence as Boston Children’s Tara Kelly, BSN, RN, CNRN tells this story at a Community Education Initiative (CEI) lecture for school nurses. As Kelly described the scenario, all in attendance wondered the same thing—how could a simple lapse in teamwork cause such chaos?

Of course, this is exactly the point—or at least one of the points—Kelly and her colleagues hope to impress upon their audience.

Hopefully most school nurses will never find themselves in a situation as dire the one faced by the Eastern Air Lines flight crew, but the story’s underlying theme of placing importance on communication and teamwork still rings very true, and is at the heart of the Crisis Resource Management (CRM) course CEI Program Coordinator Stephanie Porter, MSN, RN offers to school nurses across the state.

Michael Ellsessar's parents John and Luann, 2nd and 3rd from left, spoke at the event. Since Michael's passing, the Ellsessars have become school safety advocates

CRM is one of the newest additions to educational programs for school nurses offered by CEI, which provides training to over 1,300 school nurses annually. Last year, Porter, along with Louise Quigley, DNP, RN-BC, Maureen Pursley, BSN, RN, Jayne Rogers, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Kate Donovan, BS, PhDc, and Judi Naar, set out to create a simulation-based training program for emergency response teams. The group presented a curriculum to the School Nurse Leaders of Greater Boston in May 2012—the same month Governor Deval Patrick passed “Michael’s Law.”

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Boston Children’s Nurses: Local care, global teaching

Boston Children's nurses demonstrate care techniques to an audience of thousands. Photo courtesy of Toni Imprescia, RN, CCRN

In a hospital in Guatemala—3,400 miles from Boston Children’s Hospital—a group of Boston Children’s nurses is teaching a class on how to use surgical safety checklists to improve safe perioperative practice.

Another group of nurses and physicians is sitting in on the same class, 10,000 miles away in Viet Nam. From Bangladesh to El Salvador, clinicians don’t need to leave their hospitals to benefit from the expertise of Boston Children’s staff—they just need a computer and an Internet connection.

The idea to have Boston Children’s nurses produce and broadcast educational webinars to hospitals in resource-limited countries started with Patricia Hickey, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN, vice president of Cardiovascular/Critical Care Services, and Kathy Jenkins, MD, MPH, senior vice president and chief safety and quality officer. When the two attended the Global Forum on Humanitarian Medicine in Geneva in 2008, they discussed how the hospital could make a difference in the global health landscape. Although they encountered representatives from many countries who were interested in learning from Boston Children’s, the cost of traveling to each interested hospital was always going to be prohibitive—but the cost of broadcasting online to all of them at once was minimal.

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National Nurses Week

Today marks the end of Children’s Hospital Boston’s celebration of National Nurses Week. In honor of the occasion here are some recent Thrive stories featuring our nursing community.

Children’s nurses teach in Cambodia. Since December 2009, a group of nurses, physicians and therapists from Children’s has dedicated themselves to setting up a “Sister PICU” (pediatric intensive care unit) program between Children’s and the National Pediatric Hospital (NPH) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Children’s nurses Maureen Hillier and Kim Cox talk about the weeks they spent training Cambodia nurses, 9,000 miles away from home, in Phnom Penh.


Eva Gomez, MSN, RN

Life “inside the rails.” Eva Gomez, MSN, RN, is a nurse and staff development specialist at Children’s. In the following piece Eva explains how her recent heart surgery has renewed her appreciation for life and inspired her to be an even better care provider.


Preparing for disaster. The recent devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan forced many American families to think about their own disaster preparedness plans. But for families with children who have special medical needs, such preparation can mean the difference between life and death. John Murray, PhD, RN, Children’s director of Nursing Research in Surgical Programs and the Emergency Department, offers tips for parents and children with special medical needs on how they can make their own plans for dealing with disaster should it strike.


Finally, here’s a piece written by Meaghan O’Keeffe, RN, who practices at Children’s Preoperative Clinic. She sees hundreds of patients every year, each with their own specific needs and backgrounds. It’s a demanding job, but Meaghan says the challenge and satisfaction associated with treating such a wide range of patients is exactly what she loves about nursing.

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Biting babies

Meaghan O’Keeffe, RN, BSN, CCRN, is a registered nurse at Children’s Hospital Boston. As a pediatric nurse, counseling worried mothers is a big part of her practice, but when it comes to her own daughter, she admits that following her own advice isn’t always easy.

Sophie poised to strike?

My daughter Sophie has always been strong-willed, or “spirited”, as my husband and I prefer to call it. It’s a quality we try to embrace because we feel it’s important to set limits for our kids without dimming their light, and accept our children’s innate personalities for who they really are. It sounds like a great parenting technique, doesn’t it? It took our first major challenge to realize that progressive child-rearing principles are easy to implement when the sea is calm, but maintaining those principles when the going gets rough is a different story.

One day, out of the blue, Sophie started biting. The victim was our nanny’s son. This was a problem on many levels; it was terribly embarrassing for us as parents, but we were also terrified of losing our very wonderful (and affordable) nanny.

Fortunately our nanny agreed to tough out Sophie’s biting phase with us, and we’re lucky she did because it turned out to be quite a battle. We tried all sorts of methods to get Sophie to stop, but nothing seemed to work. The more we failed the more desperate for a solution we became. It’s amazing how quickly we can forget everything we know professionally when faced with our own personal challenges. If one of my patients’ mothers asked me about biting, I would have reassured her that the behavior is natural. I also would have suggested a few coping strategies and tell the mom not to expect the behavior to disappear over night. But when my own daughter was the biter, I felt frantic, powerless and desperate for a quick fix. It was almost as if everything I learned as a nurse had gone right out the window.

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