Expert Nurses Never Stop Educating, Explaining and Demonstrating
How many times have you walked away from a doctor’s visit with a prescription in your hand and a few of the doctor’s clipped phrases buzzing in your head, but no real understanding of what is going on inside your body, how medications will help you get better, or what else you can do to improve your condition? National Jewish Health relies on an expert nursing staff to make sure that never happens.
“Doctors diagnose and suggest treatments,” said Erwin Gelfand, MD, Chair of Pediatrics. “Nurses make sure patients understand their disease, how medications can help, how to use them, and how to anticipate and react to any problems that may come up. I truly believe that our nursing staff deserves equal credit with doctors for our number one ranking among respiratory hospitals.”
Asthma and eczema are two prime examples of how hands-on instruction can make the difference between a successful treatment and continuing health problems.
How to Use an Inhaler
“Ninety percent of all asthma patients are not getting the full benefit of their medications when they arrive,” said pediatric nurse Kathy Pond, RN. “It’s normally not their fault. Many times they’ve been given an inhaler and spacers that are not appropriate for them, or have never been taught how to properly use their medication.”
There are dozens of different inhaled medications on the market today. Each one requires a slightly different technique to make sure medications get to the lungs and are not left on the roof of the mouth, the back of the throat, or stuck in the delivery device. Timing, positioning, and a patient’s physical characteristics can all make a huge difference.
Pond and other nurses at National Jewish Health spend extensive one-on-one time with patients teaching them proper technique. In the past year, they have begun using a new In-Check DIAL that allows them to measure respiratory inhale strength in children and determine where a child is developmentally.
“Using this new tool, we are able to determine what inhalers are appropriate for patients, and we can coach children and their parents in a visual way,” said Pond. “We are committed to take the time necessary to get it right. We are there for follow-up whether it be in the office or on the phone.”
Soak and Seal
In the Pediatric Day Program, families often arrive at National Jewish Health completely burnt out. Eczema has made their children’s skin a dry, cracked, and itchy mess. Itching rules their lives, and no one sleeps.
Proper diagnosis and treatment usually takes a week or more. But from the first day, a mainstay of National Jewish Health therapy for eczema is the soak-and-seal treatment. Patients soak in warm water and wash their skin with gentle soaps. Afterwards they apply medicated creams, moisturizers, and damp cloth wraps to seal in the moisture.
The process is simple, but proper technique is critical. Many families who come to National Jewish Health have tried soak-and-seal, but have not been doing it correctly, don’t see results, and give up.
Nurses work with patients and their families to perfect the soak-and-seal technique so they can do it on their own when they return home. They also help parents identify symptoms so they can adjust their routine and catch flare-ups before they cause problems.
“We never had that kind of hands-on training before we came to National Jewish Health,” said Natalie Wong, whose son Eric suffered from severe eczema. “The nurses were so attentive and patient. They listened and let me get exactly what I needed out of the training so that I could care for my son after we left.”
Crucial explanation and education by nurses at National Jewish Health range far beyond eczema and asthma to the full range of diseases we treat. Nurses at National Jewish Health are committed to making sure patients never leave the hospital without a full understanding of their disease and practical tools to manage it.