DiversityNursing Blog

Nurse Visits Help First-Time Moms, Cut Government Costs In Long Run

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, May 15, 2015 @ 11:57 AM

MICHELLE ANDREWS

www.npr.org 

symphonie dawson custom dace4345c69592cf6ab851d6025ae1cd4f1d02e9 s400 c85 resized 600While studying to become a paralegal and working as a temp, Symphonie Dawson kept feeling sick. She found out it was because she was pregnant.

Living with her mom and two siblings near Dallas, Dawson, then 23, worried about what to expect during pregnancy and what giving birth would be like. She also didn't know how she would juggle having a baby with being in school.

At a prenatal visit she learned about a group that offers help for first-time mothers-to-be called the Nurse-Family Partnership. A registered nurse named Ashley Bradley began to visit Dawson at home every week to talk with her about her hopes and fears about pregnancy and parenthood.

Bradley helped Dawson sign up for the Women, Infants and Children Program, which provides nutritional assistance to low-income pregnant women and children. They talked about what to expect every month during pregnancy and watched videos about giving birth. After her son Andrew was born in December 2013, Bradley helped Dawson figure out how to manage her time so she wouldn't fall behind at school.

Dawson graduated with a bachelor's degree in early May. She's looking forward to spending time with Andrew and finding a paralegal job. She and Andrew's father recently became engaged.

Ashley Bradley will keep visiting Dawson until Andrew turns 2.

"Ashley's always been such a great help," Dawson says. "Whenever I have a question like what he should be doing at this age, she has the answers."

Home-visiting programs that help low-income, first-time mothers have been around for decades. Lately, however, they're attracting new fans. They appeal to people of all political stripes because the good ones manage to help families improve their lives and reduce government spending at the same time.

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act created the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program and provided $1.5 billion in funding for evidence-based home visits. As a result, there are now 17 home visiting models approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, and Congress reauthorized the program in April with $800 million for the next two years.

The Nurse-Family Partnership that helped Dawson is one of the largest and best-studied programs. Decades of research into how families fare after participating in it have documented reductions in the use of social programs such as Medicaid and food stamps, reductions in child abuse and neglect, better pregnancy outcomes for mothers and better language development and academic performance by their children.

"Seeing follow-up studies 15 years out with enduring outcomes, that's what really gave policymakers comfort," says Karen Howard, vice president for early childhood policy at First Focus, an advocacy group.

But others say the requirements for evidence-based programs are too lenient, and that only a handful of the approved models have as strong a track record as that of the Nurse-Family Partnership.

"If the evidence requirement stays as it is, almost any program will be able to qualify," says Jon Baron, vice president for of evidence-based policy at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which supports initiatives that encourage policymakers to make decisions based on data and other reliable evidence. "It threatens to derail the program."

Topics: women, government, registered nurse, advice, newborn, nursing, health, baby, family, pregnant, RN, nurse, nurses, health care, medical, home visits, new moms, first-time moms, Infants and Children Program

Visiting Nurses, Helping Mothers on the Margins

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, Mar 10, 2015 @ 02:02 PM

SABRINA TAVERNISE

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When it came time to have the baby, Shirita Corley was alone. Her mother was at the casino, her sister was not answering her cellphone, her boyfriend had disappeared months earlier, and her father she had not seen in years.

So she got in her green Chevy TrailBlazer and drove herself to the hospital.

“I feel so down,” she texted from her hospital bed. “I’m sick of these deadbeats. I’m sick of having to be so strong.”

The message went not to a friend or family member, but to a nurse, Beth Pletz. Ms. Pletz has counseled Ms. Corley at her home through the Nurse-Family Partnership, which helps poor, first-time mothers learn to be parents.

Such home visiting programs, paid for through the Affordable Care Act, are at the heart of a sweeping federal effort aimed at one of the nation’s most entrenched social problems: the persistently high rates of infant mortality. The programs have spread to some 800 cities and towns in recent years, and are testing whether successful small-scale efforts to improve children’s health by educating mothers can work on a broad national canvas.

Home visiting is an attempt to counter the damaging effects of poverty by changing habits and behaviors that have developed over generations. It gained popularity in the United States in the late 1800s when health workers like Dr. S. Josephine Baker and Lillian Wald helped poor mothers and their babies on the teeming, impoverished Lower East Side of Manhattan. At its best, the program gives poor women the confidence to take charge of their lives, a tall order that Ms. Pletz says can be achieved only if the visits are sustained. In her program, operated here by Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, the visits continue for two years.

It is Ms. Pletz’s knack for listening and talking to women — about misbehaving men, broken cars, unreliable families — that forms the bones of her bond with them.

She zips around Memphis in her aging Toyota S.U.V. with a stethoscope dangling from the rearview mirror. Her cracked iPhone perpetually pings with texts from her 25 clients. Most of them are young, black, poor and single. Few had fathers in their lives as children, and their children are often repeating the same broken pattern.

“I was lost, going from house to house,” recalled Onie Hayslett, 22, who was homeless and pregnant when she first met Ms. Pletz two years ago. Her only shoes were slippers. “She brought me food. That’s not her job description, but she did it anyway. She really cares about what’s going on. I don’t have many people in my life like that.”

Infant mortality rates in the United States are about the same as those in Europe in the first month of life, a recent study found, but then become higher in the months after babies come home from the hospital — a period when abuse and neglect can set in. (The study adjusted for premature births, which are also higher in the United States partly because of poverty. They were kept out of the study, researchers said, because the policies to reduce them are different.)

In Memphis, where close to half of children live in poverty, according to census data, the infant mortality rate has long been among the country’s highest. Sleep deaths — in which babies suffocate because of too much soft bedding or because an adult rolls over onto them — accounted for a fifth of infant deaths in the state, according to a 2013 analysis of death certificates by the Tennessee Department of Health.

When Ms. Pletz recently visited Darrisha Onry, 21, she saw Ms. Onry’s week-old child, Cedveon, lying beside her on a dark blue couch. The room was warm, small and crowded with a large living room set, a glass table, porcelain statues of dogs and an oversize cage holding two tiny, napping puppies.

“Where is he sleeping?” Ms. Pletz asked.

Cedveon started to cry, and Ms. Onry walked out of the room to make his bottle.

“The safest place for him is alone by himself on his back in his crib,” Ms. Pletz said, scooping up Cedveon, who had launched into a full-throated squall.

A little later, Ms. Pletz said, "You know never to shake the baby, right?”

Ms. Onry nodded.

Ms. Pletz continued: “Nerves get shot and sometimes people lose their cool. If that happens, just put him on his back on a bed and close the door, and take a little rest away from him.”

The program is unusual because it is based on a series of clinical trials much like those used to test drugs. In the 1970s, a child development expert, Dr. David Olds, began sending nurses into the homes of poor mothers in Elmira, N.Y., and later into Memphis and Denver. The nurses taught mothers not to fall asleep on the couch with their infants, not to give them Coca-Cola, to pick them up when they cried and to praise them when they behaved. The outcomes were compared with those from a similar group of women who did not get the help.

The results were startling. Death rates in the visited families dropped not just for children, but for mothers, too, when compared with families who did not get the services. Child abuse and neglect declined by half. Mothers stayed in the work force longer, and their use of welfare, food stamps and Medicaid declined. Children of the most vulnerable mothers had higher grade-point averages and were less likely to be arrested than their counterparts.

The program caught the attention of President Obama, who cited it in his first presidential campaign. His administration funded the program on a national scale in 2010. So far, the home visits have reached more than 115,000 mothers and children. States apply for grants and are required to collect data on how the families fare on measures of health, education and economic self-sufficiency. Early results are expected this year.

“The big question is, can the principle of evidence be implemented in a large federal program?” said Jon Baron, president of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, a nonprofit group in Washington whose aim is to increase government effectiveness in areas including education, poverty reduction and crime prevention. “And if so, will it actually improve health?”

Experts say federal standards are too loose and have allowed some groups with weak home visiting programs to participate, even if they show effects on only trivial outcomes that have no practical importance for a child’s life. Congress should fix the problem, Mr. Baron said, warning that the program in its current state is “a leaky bucket.”

“If left unchanged, essentially anyone will figure out how to qualify,” he said.

Its future is not assured. Funding for the home visiting initiative runs out as early as September for some states, and if Congress does not reauthorize it this month, programs may stop enrolling families and the $500 million the Obama administration has requested for 2016 will not be granted. Last week, its supporters urged Congress to extend it.

In Tennessee, where home visiting programs have bipartisan support, infant mortality is down by 14 percent since 2010, and sleep deaths dipped by 10 percent from 2012 to 2013. State officials credit a multitude of policies, including the home visits.

Ms. Pletz worries that she has helped only a handful of her clients truly improve their lives. But Ms. Corley, 28, the mother who drove herself to the hospital, said Ms. Pletz, who has been visiting her for two years, had made a difference. She “has been my counselor, my girlfriend, my nurse,” Ms. Corley said. Ms. Pletz helped her cope with the disappearances of her children’s fathers, taught her to recognize whooping cough and pushed her to set career goals, she said.

“She knows more about me than my own family does,” Ms. Corley said. “I feel like I’ve grown more wise. I feel stronger for sure.”

The morning after Ms. Corley gave birth, Ms. Pletz brought her breakfast: eggs, flapjacks and bacon. The new baby, Daniel, lay in a clear plastic crib next to Ms. Corley’s hospital bed, and the two women talked over his head like old friends.

“Can I pick him up?” Ms. Pletz asked.

Ms. Corley replied: “I think he’s waiting on it.”

Source: www.nytimes.com

Topics: parents, affordable care act, mothers, infant mortality, nursing, family, nurse, nurses, children

Coma Patients Show Improved Recovery From Hearing Family Voices

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jan 26, 2015 @ 12:12 PM

By David McNamee

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It has been a dramatic plot device within countless movies and soap operas, but now a new study from Northwestern Medicine and Hines VA Hospital, both in Illinois, has attempted to answer the question: can the voices of family members and loved ones really wake coma patients from unconsciousness?

A coma is defined as an unconscious condition in which the patient is unable to open their eyes. When a patient begins to recover from a coma, they progress first to a minimally conscious or "vegetative state," though these states can last anywhere from a few weeks to several years.

Lead author Theresa Pape was inspired to conduct the new study - the results of which are published in the journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair - while working as a speech therapist for coma patients with traumatic brain injuries. Pape observed that patients appeared to respond better to family members than to strangers.

From this, Pape began to wonder if patients' ability to recover might be increased if therapists were able to stimulate and exercise people's brains while they were unconscious.

As part of the randomized, placebo-controlled study, 15 patients with traumatic closed head injuries who were in a minimally conscious state were enrolled to Familiar Auditory Sensory Training (FAST). The 12 men and three women had an average age of 35 and had been in a vegetative state for an average of 70 days before the FAST treatment began.

At the start of the study, Pape and her colleagues used bells and whistles to test how responsive the patients were to sensory information. They also assessed whether the patients were able to follow directions to open their eyes or if they could visually track someone walking across the room.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was also used to get a baseline impression of how blood oxygen levels in the patients' brains changed while listening to both familiar and unfamiliar voices tell different stories.

The therapists then asked the patients' families to look at photo albums to identify and piece together at least eight important stories concerning events that the patient and their family took part in together.

"It could be a family wedding or a special road trip together, such as going to visit colleges," Pape explains. "It had to be something they'd remember, and we needed to bring the stories to life with sensations, temperature and movement. Families would describe the air rushing past the patient as he rode in the Corvette with the top down or the cold air on his face as he skied down a mountain slope."

Patients were more responsive to unfamiliar voices after 6 weeks of therapy

The stories were rehearsed and recorded by the families and then played to the coma patients for 6 weeks. Following this listening period, the MRI tests were repeated, with blood oxygen levels being taken while the patients listened to their stories being told by familiar and unfamiliar voices.

The MRI recorded a change in oxygen levels when the unfamiliar voice was telling the story, but there was no change from baseline levels for the familiar voice.

Pape says that these findings demonstrate a greater ability to process and understand speech among the patients, as they are more responsive to the unfamiliar voice telling the story: "At baseline they didn't pay attention to that non-familiar voice. But now they are processing what that person is saying.''

At this point in the treatment, the researchers also found that the patients were less responsive to the sound of a small bell ringing than they had been at the start of the study. The team believes that this indicates the patients were now better able to discriminate between different types of audio information and decide what is most important to listen to.

"Mom's voice telling them familiar stories over and over helped their brains pay attention to important information rather than the bell," Pape says. "They were able to filter out what was relevant and what wasn't."

The first 2 weeks were found to be the most important period for treatment and demonstrated the biggest gains. The remaining 4 weeks of treatment saw smaller, more incremental gains.

"This gives families hope and something they can control," Pape says of the treatment, recommending that families work with a therapist to help construct stories that augment the other therapies the patient may be undergoing.

Now, the team is analyzing the study data to investigate whether the FAST treatment strengthened axons - the fibers that make up the brain's "wiring" and transmit signals between neurons.

Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com

Topics: recovery, coma, voices, family, nurse, research, medical, hospital, patient, treatment, physicians

Legal Battle Rages Over Whether to Force 17-Year-Old Cancer Patient to Have Chemo

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Jan 07, 2015 @ 01:38 PM

By SYDNEY LUPKIN

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A court will determine whether a 17-year-old girl, under something called the "mature minor doctrine," can be forced to undergo chemotherapy after she refused treatment for her cancer.

How do you feel about this?

The case will go to the Connecticut Supreme court this week to determine whether the teen, identified in court papers as Cassandra, has "the fundamental right to have a say about what goes on with your [her] body," attorney Michael Taylor, who represents the teen's mother, told ABC News. Taylor was appointed by the public defender's office, and Cassandra has her own court-appointed lawyer, but they've filed joint appeals.

Cassandra was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in September, but decided she didn't want to complete the prescribed treatment, according to a court summary. Her mother supported this decision, but the Department of Children and Families stepped in and ordered her mother to comply with the doctor's treatment recommendation.

"It's really for all the reasons you might imagine," said Taylor, adding that he couldn't go into more detail.

Although chemotherapy is a drug that destroys cancer cells, its side effects include hair loss, nausea, pain and fertility changes, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Cassandra underwent two chemotherapy treatments in November and then ran away from home and refused to continue treatments, according to the court summary.

A court hearing ensued in which Cassandra's doctors testified, and she was removed from her mother's home and placed in state custody so that the state could make medical decisions for her.

She has been has been living at Connecticut Children's Medical Center and forced to undergo chemotherapy for about three weeks.

The Hartford Courant reported that Cassandra has an 80 to 85 percent chance of surviving her cancer if she continues with her chemotherapy.

The state Department of Children and Families issued the following statement:

"When experts -- such as the several physicians involved in this case -- tell us with certainty that a child will die as a result of leaving a decision up to a parent, then the Department has a responsibility to take action. Even if the decision might result in criticism, we have an obligation to protect the life of the child when there is consensus among the medical experts that action is required. Much of the improvements in Connecticut's child welfare system have come from working with families voluntarily to realize solutions to family challenges. Unfortunately that can't happen in every situation, especially when the life of a child is at stake."

"No one is disputing that it's very serious," Taylor said. He said there's "a good chance" Cassandra could survive her cancer with treatment, and "there's a good chance she could die if she doesn't. None of us disagree about that."

Taylor said they're trying to argue that because Cassandra is competent, she should be allowed to make this decision for herself through something called the "mature minor doctrine," which has been adopted in Illinois and a few other states but rejected in Texas. The doctrine holds that some children are mature enough to make key life decisions for themselves.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com

Topics: chemo, minor, legal, Medical Center, State, health, healthcare, family, nurses, doctors, children, medical, cancer, hospital, medicine, treatments, chemotherapy

From the NICU to the Moon: Babies in Intensive Care Dream Big

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Nov 10, 2014 @ 03:13 PM

BY CHIARA SOTTILE

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Twice a day, Michele Forth drives 45 miles to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to visit her 4-month-old baby she affectionately calls "Miss Madilyn." She is a 6-pound fighter in pink pajamas — but to her family and the nurses who care for her day and night, she is so much more.

"Hi, pumpkin! You just waking up?" Forth coos. Nurse Adrianna "Adri" Zimmerman, wearing purple scrubs and a warm smile, hands Madilyn to her father who is quickly surrounded by his wife and two young sons.

"She fights harder than any adult that I know, let alone a 6-pound baby," says father Shane Forth, softly stroking Madilyn's delicate left foot in his hand.

It was in that spirit that the nurses chose to see Madilyn, one of nearly 100 babies cared for in the NICU at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta every day. "We always talk about how feisty this one is or how sweet this one is,” Zimmerman says.

That bedside chatting took on a whole new life with a photo series called "From the NICU to the Moon" that imagines what the babies dream about as they wiggle and smile in their sleep, and what they might become someday. It also aims to educate parents about safe sleep for newborns.

The nurses and hospital communications team imagined Madilyn as a physician, surrounded by stethoscopes and Band-Aids. The photo series also features Brentley, the future astronaut, Arianna, the future chef, Sofia the ballerina, and Carolina as an Olympian.

Madilyn was born two months early and has what is called vacterl association (a collection of birth defects), resulting in multiple surgeries and months in the NICU. Zimmerman remembers Madilyn's arrival in the NICU like it was her own child.

"I think she's strong and she's definitely got the will to see whatever it is through to the end, so, if that happens to be med school in a few years, I would not be surprised," says Zimmerman. "It's funny how much personality these babies have."

And Mom is happy with the depiction. "Even though Miss Madilyn does have a whole bunch of obstacles ahead of her right now," she says, "she can do amazing things and she can aspire to be anything that she wants to be."

Carolina, the tiny Olympian, is “a strong-willed patient who has a lot of heart and she is letting nothing hold her back," says Jessica Wright, a NICU Nurse with 10 years of experience. "Just because they were born early doesn't mean they cannot do whatever they want when they grow up in life."

True to her athletic depiction, Carolina is hardly ever still in her crib. Gazing up at the green alligator and orange lion of her soother, Carolina playfully kicks her feet back and forth, her bright eyes fixed on Nurse Wright. "What are you thinking about?" Wright asks, her hand on Carolina's blue and pink ensemble, "You tell 'em about it, wiggle worm."

Sofia, the ballerina in the photo series, is also on the move. Since she was photographed, Sofia was able to leave the NICU and go home with her parents, Fred and Dawnyale "Dawny" Hill.

In the pale orange light of an Atlanta sunset, Fred and Dawny cradle their daughter in their arms on the family's front porch. It's Sofia's first time outside on the porch and her longest stint outside in the evening since she went home. "What do you think? What do you think? Hill asks his daughter, holding her hand. "Interesting, huh?"

Sofia spent 157 days, 20 hours, and 6 total minutes in NICUs. Respiratory and reflux issues keep this 5 1/2-month-old on an oxygen tank and feeding tube.

"She has some accessories, as we like to refer to them as," says Mr. Hill, about the oxygen tank and tubes. "They kind of travel with her."

But in the "NICU to the Moon" photos, Sofia left all the tubes behind for the stage and curtains. "It made her seem normal. The way the pictures kind of erased all of the cords. All of the tubes," says Hill of his daughter. "I saw the innocence of Sofia as opposed to my child in the NICU."

"She's got a family full of dancers on both sides so we definitely are excited to see Miss Sofia the ballerina come about," Dawny says with a laugh. "She'll be dancing around."

But for now, the Hills cherish moments with Sofia at home, like their evening bedtime routine. Mr. Hill carries Sofia on his chest while Dawny wheels the oxygen tank and other cords towards the bedroom. "Good holding your head, Sofia. Look at you," applauds Mrs. Hill.

As they gently place her on her back in her crib, Sofia rubs her eyes.

"Hey, you had a good day. You had a good day, right? Are you sleepy?" asks her father, the machine beeping and sighing next to the crib.

"Ready? Time to pray," Mr. Hill says, kneeling over the crib next to his wife. They pray for every organ in their daughter's body and give thanks to the doctors who helped bring her home.

"We will be keeping up our bedtime routine," Mrs. Hill says, looking at her husband. "Until she can start saying her prayers," he answers.

"Any child that has to go through that much opposition from day one, there's got to be something great for them to accomplish out of life, so my hope is that she accomplishes exactly what she was sent here to do," Mr. Hill says.

And with that, the bedroom light switches off and one more former NICU baby gets to dream of her future in her own crib.

Source: www.nbcnews.com

Topics: health, family, nurses, health care, medical, hospital, NICU, intensive care unit, babies, photography

For Pregnant Marathoners, Two Endurance Tests

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Oct 27, 2014 @ 02:35 PM

By 

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When Paula Radcliffe won the New York City Marathon in 2007, nine months after giving birth to a daughter, Isla, Radcliffe was considered an anomaly. Her intense training through her pregnancy, which included twice-a-day sessions and grueling hill workouts, was scrutinized and criticized.

Seven years later, maintaining a top running career and a family has become relatively common. About a third of the women in the professional field of 31 for the New York City Marathon next Sunday have children.

“I watched Paula win New York, basically leading from the starting gun to the finish tape, and afterward she picked up her baby,” said Kara Goucher, a top American marathoner. “I realized I can do both. And I want to do both.”

Goucher, 36, finished third in the 2008 New York City Marathon, and this year she will run the New York race for the first time with her 4-year-old son, Colt, cheering her on.

When she contemplated having a child, Goucher engaged in the careful strategizing common to elite female athletes, who consider precisely when to become pregnant so as not to risk missing out on an Olympic medal or sacrificing a corporate sponsorship.

Elite female distance runners now run competitive times well into their late 30s. The average age of a top female marathoner is 30, and 19 women in next Sunday’s professional field are that age or older.

As athletic peaks for these top runners have overtaken fertility peaks, the decision to combine motherhood and training has become increasingly unavoidable. Competitive careers are stretching: The American Deena Kastor, expected to be another top finisher next Sunday, is 41.

“I always wanted to have a child,” Goucher said, “and I didn’t want to wait until I was done, because I don’t really see an end date on my career. I wanted more in my life than just running. But the details of how you do that can get incredibly complicated.”

Elite runners often try to squeeze in a pregnancy and recovery in the 16-month window between world track championships in years with no Summer Olympics. This is one such year, and pregnancies abound.

Maternity leave in professional running is rare. A pregnancy is still frequently treated as if it were an injury, and women can experience a pay cut or not be paid at all if they do not compete for six months. During that period, they often remain bound to sponsors in exclusive contracts that can last upward of six years. Because the athletes are independent contractors, they are not covered by laws that protect employed women in pregnancy.

Lauren Fleshman, an N.C.A.A. 5,000-meter champion and a professional runner, switched to a women’s-oriented sponsor, the running apparel company Oiselle, before having a son in June 2013.

Referring to Goucher and Radcliffe, Fleshman said: “Kara and Paula showed that pregnancy doesn’t necessarily need to be an impediment to the athletic part of our careers, and blew up the vestiges of the myth of the ‘fragile woman’ who can’t be both a top athlete and a mother. But in terms of your career, there’s still the feeling that if you say you want to have a kid, you’re saying you don’t want to be an athlete.”

It does not help that so many people seem to have an opinion on the matter. After Alysia Montaño, a 2012 Olympian, ran an 800-meter race in June during her eighth month of pregnancy, her decision became the subject of intense public scrutiny.

“I wanted to help clear up the stigma around women exercising during pregnancy, which baffled me,” Montaño said. “People sometimes act like being pregnant is a nine-month death sentence, like you should lie in bed all day. I wanted to be an example for women starting a family while continuing a career, whatever that might be. I was still surprised by how many people paid attention.”

Montaño’s daughter was born in August.

“Giving birth is a very athletic activity, like going through intervals on the track,” Montaño said. “Like contractions, intervals can start out easy and progress as they get harder. There’s sometimes a point where you wonder, ‘Can I do one more set?’ But you know you’re going to make it. And then you kick to the finish.”

Other women have chosen different paths.

Clara Horowitz Peterson, a former top runner at Duke, focused on starting a family in her mid-20s, aiming for a racing peak afterward. Now 30, she is pregnant with her fourth child.

“I think if I’d chosen to train at altitude and log 120-mile weeks, I could have made it to the Olympics,” said Peterson, who typically runs 80 to 90 miles a week when not pregnant. “But that comes with sacrifices; you put your career first, and before you know it, you’re 28, maybe confronting fertility issues. I always felt like having children was more important to me than a running career.”

Still, Peterson ran right up until the births of her first three children. She qualified for the 2012 United States Olympic marathon trials just four months after delivering her second child, and she logged a 2-hour-35-minute time at the race four months later.

“I trained hard through that pregnancy,” Peterson said. “You can tell when you’re pushing it. You get twingy, or feel tendons pulling, so I backed off when that happened.”

To bounce back for the trials, Peterson said, she breast-fed her second child for only five weeks — finding that the hormones related to breast-feeding made her feel sluggish — and dropped the 20 pounds she typically gained during pregnancy in eight weeks without dieting. (She breast-fed her third child for six months.)

The understanding of women’s physical resilience during and after pregnancy has also developed in recent years.

“We still don’t have good science to guide us,” said Dr. Aaron Baggish, associate director of the cardiovascular performance program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, which counsels elite athletes through pregnancy. “But unequivocally I think women should exercise through pregnancy, both for their baby and their own health. The body has evolved that way. Your baseline fitness level is the best guideline: Elite athletes start out with a higher threshold, so they can do more.”

After athletes give birth, efforts to get back into shape are consuming, coupled with the usual adjustments to caring for an infant. Breast-feeding interrupts the sleep that heals spent muscles and restores energy to a tired body. Babies are often kept out of group day care to prevent them from bringing home illnesses that could compromise rigid training plans.

Pregnancy can be hard to combine with any job. As in other fields, partners are generally a key component of elite athletes’ ability to continue their careers after having children.

Edna Kiplagat, a 35-year-old Kenyan who is among the favorites in next Sunday’s race, had two children before becoming a two-time marathon world champion and the 2010 winner in New York.

Her husband and coach, Gilbert Koech, gave up his running career to focus on hers and manage their family, making breakfast for their five children, three of whom are adopted, and taking them to school while Kiplagat trains.

Goucher’s husband, Adam, retired from professional racing a year after their son’s birth and started a running-related business. He tries to balance supporting her racing career with managing his new one, saying that he and Kara work to share equally in caring for Colt.

“Kara’s putting her body through a lot right now,” her husband said, “and we need to do everything possible to alleviate the stress of training. When she needs to go out and run, or needs to rest and recover, that’s my first priority.”

Goucher said she was taking the trade-offs in stride.

“It’s scary because the fact is for all women when you have a child, you do need to drop out for a long time, and you don’t know how you’ll come back,” she said. “It’s a huge risk. Of course, I’m serious about my job, but in life I needed to be more than that. So I think it was worth it.”

Source: www.nytimes.com

Topics: health, healthcare, training, baby, family, pregnant, running, safety, pregnancy, marathons

Injuries kept Lincoln woman from being a nurse, but sons carry out her dream

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, May 30, 2014 @ 10:58 AM

By Michael O'Connor

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Wet snowflakes fell on that day after Christmas 1973 as she glanced out the window.

Nancy Whittaker just wanted to return a few presents with her boyfriend, but her parents worried about her making the 40-mile trip from Beatrice to Lincoln. Maybe it was best if they made the drive another day, after the weather improved.

I'll be fine, Nancy told them before sliding into the front seat. Nancy, 17 at the time, sat in the middle of the bench seat, with her 19-year-old boyfriend, Paul Cramer, on her right, and his college roommate behind the wheel.

Nancy, a pretty and popular senior at Beatrice High School, planned to attend college and follow her dream of becoming a nurse.

She wanted a career, but her greatest hope — one she had wished for since she was little — was becoming a wife and mother. She wondered if Paul might be the man she would marry someday.

Nancy and the two others set out on their trip that winter day 40 years ago, but they never arrived in Lincoln.

In the years that followed, Nancy would face tough obstacles reaching her dreams. Though she wouldn't fulfill them all, she would reach most, including motherhood. And through her faith, courage and perseverance she would inspire her children to achieve one dream that fell from her grasp.

Before Nancy left on the trip that day, she spoke with her dad about a Christmas present she'd given him.

It was her senior picture in a wooden frame. She reminded him to hang it in his office at work.

There was Nancy, with her blue eyes and long blond hair, smiling in the photo.

Her father promised he'd take it to work, and gave her a hug and kiss.

Be careful, he told her.

* * *

Nancy and the others stopped to fill the white two-door Dodge with gas before heading north out of Beatrice on U.S. Highway 77 — a two-lane road in those days.

Seven miles north of Beatrice, the Dodge trailed a truck near the tiny town of Pickrell about 2:20 p.m. Newspaper stories and a sheriff's report indicate the car moved into the opposite lane. Paul caught a split-second glimpse of the oncoming sedan. He instinctively braced himself against the dashboard with his right arm and threw the other across Nancy's chest.

The two cars collided head-on, according to news reports. The other car carried a 75-year-old Kansas man and his wife, who both died in the crash.

Nancy's head smashed against the dash, crushing the middle third of her face. She broke a hip, her pelvis and jaw. Paul broke an ankle, nearly severed a finger and suffered a concussion and chest injury. His roommate also was injured.

In an emergency room in Beatrice, Nancy remembers hearing voices and her family doctor exclaim, “Oh, my God.”

Her face throbbed with pain, and she couldn't see.

You've been in a car accident, her father told her, but you will be OK.

Why can't I see, she asked.

Doctors are taking good care of you, her dad replied. They will figure that out.

Within hours of the crash, doctors transferred her by ambulance to a Lincoln hospital. A nurse Nancy knew sat in the back with her during the drive. The previous summer Nancy had worked as a nurse's aide and the woman had trained her.

The nurse held her hand, and though Nancy still could not see, she felt peaceful, as if the Lord held her in His arms.

In Lincoln, Nancy underwent the first of what would be nearly a dozen plastic surgeries to reconstruct her face. The surgeon who performed the first eight-hour operation told Nancy's family her facial bones were so shattered that it was like “stringing pearls” together.

As she lay in her hospital bed a day or two after the crash, Nancy had a question for her mother.

It wasn't about her eyes, or her face.

Will I still be able to have babies someday?

Her mother leaned over her bed and gently told her yes.

Nancy was relieved, but soon would learn devastating news.

Within a week of the accident, doctors told her what she had feared: She was permanently and completely blind. Her optic nerves were dead because injuries had cut off their blood supply.

Nancy felt the Lord would take care of her, but she was scared, and her mind raced.

How would she get around? How would she pick out clothes? How would she put on makeup?

Could she still go to college? What would her boyfriend, Paul, say?

He was recovering at a Beatrice hospital, and soon after Nancy learned about her blindness, he phoned.

He told Nancy he had fallen in love with her months before, and her blindness didn't change that.

“I love you,” he told her on the phone that day, “not what you can see.”

* * *

Nancy remembers a psychiatrist in the hospital telling her she had two choices: Compare her life now to her life before the accident and feel miserable, or move forward.

Nancy picked her path.

After finishing her senior year of high school, she enrolled part time at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln and moved into a dorm with a friend. Paul was a junior at the school.

She majored in psychology, knowing that without vision, a nursing career simply wouldn't work.

Some textbooks were on reel-to-reel tape, and Nancy listened to them in a study lounge. When she had to write a paper, she dictated sentences to her mom, who typed them. Her professors read test questions to her after class.

Nancy's relationship with Paul grew stronger during their college years, and they married on June 4, 1977.

In May 1981, eight years after she began taking classes half time, Nancy graduated.

When her name was called at the ceremony, she linked arms with Paul and walked across the stage.

The audience rose to its feet and erupted in applause.

* * *

In spring 1986, Nancy heard the words she had longed for: You're pregnant.

She had accepted her blindness because she knew the Lord would bless her and Paul in other ways. A baby, she thought, was that grace.

Nearly two years earlier she'd had a miscarriage, and she and Paul prayed that they would be blessed with another baby.

That baby was born two months premature in October 1986. Paul Andrew was small — 4 pounds, 2 ounces — but healthy.

Nancy remembers hearing his loud cries for the first time, as tears streamed down her face.

Her husband described the baby to her: blue eyes, light hair, a long body.

She held her child on her chest, stroking his hair, cheeks, nose and lips, tracing the outline of his face with her fingers.

He was beautiful.

* * *

Caring for a baby challenges any mom, and Nancy faced extra hurdles.

Plus, soon she no longer had just one son.

Two years and two days after the birth of her first son, Nancy delivered a second healthy boy, Daniel Whittaker.

Keeping her boys safe at home was a big test. She vacuumed constantly to make sure there wasn't a coin or paper clip on the floor her boys could put in their mouths.

Organization was the key for other duties.

Changing diapers and cleaning messy bottoms became a snap because Nancy knew just where to reach for a clean diaper and a wipe.

Her husband marked foods with a label in Braille, making it easy for Nancy to find the applesauce or baby cereal in the kitchen of their Lincoln home.

As her boys got older, she reminded them that mommy couldn't see them, so they needed to tell her if they left a room, and she could follow the sound of their voices.

Nancy, who left a phone company job to raise her family, regularly walked with her sons and a guide dog to a park and their school five blocks from home.

Every couple of years, Nancy visited her sons' grade school and talked about life as a blind person.

How do you get dressed, students asked. How do you walk without bumping into things?

Her sons listened proudly. Those talks helped them realize that blindness didn't stop their mom. It was simply part of her life, and she dealt with it.

As they grew, Nancy's sons learned that mom sometimes needed help, and she wasn't too proud to receive it.

She knew her way around the house but sometimes cut her forehead on an open cupboard. Her boys would dab the wound with soap and water and place a bandage on it.

Nancy always put on her own makeup, but if she smudged her mascara, her boys cleared it with a Q-tip.

When her boys were older, she'd ask them to read the labels on her medicine bottles.

Her sons never complained about helping. Nancy realized they carried a tender and caring nature, and that filled her and her husband with pride.

* * *

Nancy is now 58 and works as a phone interviewer for a university research office in Lincoln. Paul is 60, and the pair — whose relationship flowed from a teenage romance — will celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary next month.

And their boys are grown now.

Paul Andrew, 27, and Daniel, 25, knew their mom had to give up becoming a nurse, and looking back, they realize she channeled her caregiver instincts into raising them.

Her sons were struck by her ability to raise them despite not just her blindness but also her chronic asthma and other medical problems stemming from her car crash injuries.

They joined their mother on dozens of medical appointments while growing up, and saw how the nurses and doctors helped her. Both sons also liked the satisfaction of helping their mom, and how something as simple as them tending to a cut on her forehead made her feel better.

All of those experiences seeped in over the years and led both sons, even as teens, to begin thinking of health care careers.

Though Nancy never reached her dream of becoming a nurse, her sons followed that path.

Paul Andrew graduated last year from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and is a nurse at Immanuel Medical Center in Omaha.

On Friday, Dan walked across the stage at a Lincoln auditorium and received his nursing degree from UNMC. A smile broke across Nancy's face as they called his name.

Afterward in the lobby, Dan weaved through the crowd and found his mother. The 6-foot-4 Dan leaned down and hugged her, as his brother stood close.

For parents, college graduation signals the step into adulthood, although in a mother's mind, the little child never quite disappears.

That's how it is for Nancy.

As the crowd began breaking up, Dan stepped close and told her he loved her.

She reached up and touched the back of his neck with her hand.

He was beautiful.

Source: Omaha.com

Topics: injury, heartwarming, family, nurse

Family Nurse Practitioner: A Supercharged Career Path

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 @ 01:05 PM

by 

As more Americans gain access to healthcare, and fewer physicians are available, family nursesuperpower
practitioners (FNPs) can play a valuable role in providing families with access to primary care. 

What is an FNP? 

FNPs work autonomously and as part of a primary-care health team to:

  • Manage patients’ overall care
  • Diagnose/treat acute and chronic conditions
  • Prescribe medications
  • Educate patients on disease prevention/health management

 

What is the salary of a family nurse practitioner?

Nurse practitioners enjoy an average, full-time, total salary of $98,760, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Named one of the best jobs in America by CNNMoney/Payscale.com in 2012, FNPs also enjoy increased autonomy, expanded responsibilities and time to spend with patients. Check out the infographic below for more reasons why family nurse practitioners are today’s healthcare superheroes:

superpower2 resized 600

Infographic by Chamberlain College of Nursing

Topics: Chamberlain College of Nursing, family, nurse practitioner, salary

Focus on Diversity - Meet the Santos Family at CentraState Healthcare System in New Jersey

Posted by Hannah McCaffrey

Tue, Feb 26, 2013 @ 09:15 AM

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CentraState Healthcare System located in Freehold, NJ is a nonprofit community health organization consisting of an acute-care hospital, an ambulatory campus, three-senior living communities, a family medicine residency program, and a charitable foundation. Over the years, CentraState has employed multiple family members from numerous families in NJ.

In this “Focus on Diversity” issue of our bimonthly eNewsletter, we are featuring 4 members of the Santos family who work at CentraState – 3 family members have worked at CentraState for over 24 years! Joe Santos is the spokesperson for the Santos family.

Pat Magrath from DiversityNursing.com recently had the opportunity to chat with Joe Santos, RN and Unit Manager at CentraState’s Manor Rehab Healthcare Center. Joe said “every day is a different day working in the Rehab Center. My patience is tested daily and I love it”.

Joe grew up in the Philippines and while living there, Joe’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Joe took care of his father. He loved taking care of him and discovered he had a passion for it. Joe was always interested in science and medicine, but medical school in the Philippines was too expensive, so he became a Mining Engineer. When Joe immigrated to the US in 1989, no one needed his mining engineer skills so he went to CentraState and applied for a job as an orderly. He was hired the next day.

Joe has worked at CentraState for 24 years. While working as an orderly, he went to school and became an LPN. CentraState encouraged him to further his education and paid his tuition fees to become an RN where he is now the Unit Manager at the Manor. Over the years, Joe has been appointed Acting Director of Nursing, not once, but twice. He was happy to help out, but he was not interested in the position on a permanent basis.

Many years ago, there was a pretty lady named Evangeline living in Joe’s apartment complex. She too grew up in the Philippines and was already an RN at CentraState. They met and soon married. Evangeline has also been at CentraState for 24 years! She worked in Orthopedics for 16 years, transferred to short-stay Surgery for 2 years and currently works at the CentraState Family Medicine Center. They have 2 daughters and are expecting their first grandchild. Perhaps like their parents, they’ll be working at CentraState too!

Joe’s brother, Teodoro started working at CentraState in 1989 -- the same year as Joe and Evangeline. His career started as a cook in the hospital and 9 years ago, he became the Senior Cook at the Manor where Joe works.

Joe’s niece, Charmaine, has worked as a Patient Care Technician in the 5 North Progressive Care Unit for 6 years.

Well there you have it… 4 members of the Santos family – Joe, Evangeline, Teodoro and Charmaine... all happily and productively working at CentraState.

I had to ask… What makes CentraState such a great place to work? Joe responded… When they all immigrated to the US, they lived close to the hospital which was much smaller at the time. The convenient location and the “one big happy family” feel at the hospital, gave the Santos family a terrific opportunity for employment. They grew in their careers among genuinely friendly and caring people.

As the years have gone by, CentraState has expanded and it still feels great to be working there with talented, caring staff and family. As Joe told me, “we live in the community, work in beautiful facilities, enjoy generous benefits, and appreciate the ability to continue to grow in our careers at CentraState where we have been supported and encouraged”.

Dolores N. Napolitano, Manager of Recruitment for CentraState Healthcare System stated “we value our employees and feel like they are our family members too. When individuals who are actually blood related family work here, it makes it even more special and unique.  CentraState is their hospital in more ways than one because they live in the community and work here as well. The Santos’ are one of many multi-generational families working at CentraState and we embrace the concept and actuality of it.  It is only a part of what we do to acknowledge and support the diverse staff we have and the community that we serve".

"We welcome you and your family to visit our website http://www.centrastate.com/Careers/Nursing-Career-Information and check out our job opportunities.”

Topics: CentraState, diversity, ethnic, diverse, family, ethnicity

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