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Queens Chronicle

NURSES WEEK 2019 Nurses work with elderly in hospitals, homes

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Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2019 10:30 am

Nurses are of vital importance to the elderly, whether it be in the home or at the hospital, long-term or short-term.

“I think the care of seniors is absolutely critical,” said Kerri Scanlon, the deputy chief nursing officer of Northwell Health and associate executive director of patient care services and chief nursing officer of North Shore University Hospital.

Scanlon explained that nurses work with people of advanced ages both at hospitals and at home.

“Nursing touches every element of the care for our elderly,” she said. “The whole goal is for the nurse to be able to manage that care and optimize the patient. And it’s not the same nurse, it’s the nurses in hospital settings, home-care settings, case management settings.”

And, Scanlon said, making sure seniors can live on their own is paramount.

“The biggest thing they do is help to educate and help to show seniors to stay at home and how to care for themselves, which is crucial,” she said. “The biggest thing is maintaining that independence so that they’re able to stay at home.”

When people receive care at home, nurses can make sure they are taking their medication and that they have an understanding of what the medicine is for.

And a nurse can also look around a patient’s home and determine if it’s safe.

“Is it the safest environment for the patient? Do they have other needs that will help them and just the day-to-day practicing care that they have in their home,” Scanlon said. “They will also be able to educate the patient so that there’s things that they can do to stay at the most optimal health for themselves.”

Another area in which a nurse can educate a patient is regarding wound care, she added.

And in the hospital, the nurses give direct care, “whether it be medications, IVs, wound management, education or coordination of what the needs are for the patient. So nursing plays a vital and critical role in the care of the elderly.”

Nurses are also able to have a close relationship with patients.

“I think that patients over time trust the nurse. That’s why nursing is the most trusted profession, still,” Scanlon said. “Because there’s nothing more personal than when you have health need and you are developing that relationship with a patient and you’re at your most vulnerable state.”

Scanlon became a nurse 25 years ago, following in the footsteps of her mother after seeing the impact she had on patients.

“I just felt, what a wonderful profession and I went into it,” Scanlon said.

She earned her master’s degree in nursing from Columbia University as an adult nurse practitioner.

“I consider it an honor to be a registered nurse,” she said, noting that there are over 14,000 nurses in the health system.

And there will be one more soon, as Scanlon’s daughter will be graduating in two weeks.

“I’m very, very excited,” Scanlon said.

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