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Posts tagged ‘Media’

What Would #ThisNurse Say? Consumers, Hospitals & Data Holes

Photo by Thomas Leth-Olsen via Flickr Creative Commons.

Photo by Thomas Leth-Olsen via Flickr Creative Commons.

As I return to my analysis of New York Times nursing coverage after a semester break in Brazil, nursing’s recent front-page spread tempted me.  But to discuss Dionne Searcey, Eduardo Porter and Robert Gebeloff’s  article would only encourage you to read it.

Instead, I’ll push past, hoping that others see nursing as different from telephone repair, and that too many folks don’t start joining the profession just for a bigger paycheck. I want to highlight content that will further the profession and its voice in the media, not journalism that sells nursing as a solution for jumping classes.

Wednesday’s editorial, “Is That Really a Five-Star Nursing Home?”, provided a perfect replacement. In it, the Editorial Board told of Medicare’s new algorithm for telling the public which nursing homes are good or not. Go figure, the data on Nursing Homes Compare (a Medicare website similar to Hospital Compare), largely based on staffing and quality, was quite inflated; a third of the facilities lost their five-star rating after these new standards launched.

What excited me most wasn’t the promise of more accurate data, though. It was the info-heavy statement at the very end of the article:

“Perhaps the most important improvement is that by the end of 2016, the government will require all nursing homes to report staffing levels — an important determinant of quality — every quarter, using an electronic system that can be verified with payroll data.”

I’m a hospital nurse, not a nursing home nurse, and I’ve often wondered why my patients and their families lacked insight into the data behind how I do my job (how many hours I spend with each patient), or with what tools (how many patients I care for, and my level of education). While Hospital Compare provides data on quality measures, it doesn’t report or link these measures to staffing, as the Times just did in this editorial’s final statement.

In comparison, Nursing Home Compare lists staffing data for consumers to view and weigh. So, if I’m looking for a nursing home for my 97-year-old grandma, I can compare the ones in my neighborhood, and see how much time nurses spend with each resident. Even though these numbers are bloated (I mixed some basic math with some basic logic), they offer a baseline for consumers to judge from. I’d venture to guess that everyone in Big Mac America knows that more time with patients is better than less.

If I’m looking for a nursing home, this data is lovely. But my grandmother doesn’t need a nursing home. I’m shopping around for a quality hospital to care for my 57-year-old mom, who might need back surgery. Thanks to this Medicare data mismatch, I have no way of obtaining hospital staffing data. Sure, I can find info on back surgeons, but after the surgery is over, my mom will rely on nurses for her recovery. And if the Times editors just said what I think they just said – staffing should be transparent because it directly affects quality – this omission of information makes me a really unhappy consumer.

Since the government does not currently mandate reporting on hospital staffing, I, as a consumer, have no way of knowing anything about this, or where to find answers. I’m in the dark as to how each hospital staffs, which hospitals hire nurses with Bachelor’s degrees, or how one hospital compares to another in nursing care hours – all data-driven measures on the road to quality. Instead, I’m left guessing about an enormous determinant to quality for a life-altering, expensive transaction. Shocking, considering the level of analysis we demand when purchasing even simple electronic equipment.

In a world where health care bankruptcy reigns and technology creates consumer transparency for everything from cars to shaving cream, omitting information on hospital staffing is pretty senseless. And so, I’m a bit encouraged by what the Times did with this little editorial: By showing what’s becoming transparent, it highlighted what is still dangerously hidden.

This post is by Graduate Fellow, Amanda Anderson, RN. What Would #ThisNurse Say? is her media project that analyzes New York Times coverage of nursing. Amanda tweets as @12hourRN

Healthstyles: Changing the conversation about substance abuse

WBAI

There are millions of families struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. They struggle to find practical tools to get help. Some never do because of the stigma involved. Some never do because of the lack of access to effective care. Too often, the one-size fits all model of treatment fails them, their families and their friends.

Tune in to Healthstyles, Thursday, February 19th starting at 1:00 PM for this 2 hour special segment and learn about a more effective and more respectful treatment for people struggling with substance use, as well as their families.

Healthstyles producers and co-hosts Diana Mason, PhD, RN, and Barbara Glickstein, RN, MPH, MS interview Carrie Wilkens, PhDthe cofounder and clinical director of the Center for Motivation and Change (CMC) and one of the authors of the book, Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change.Hardcover-Beyond_Addiction_resized3

The clinical team at CMC say, “Changing a life, not just giving up a habit.”

Hear from Miriam Fridman, RN MSN, is a nurse manager on the inpatient unit at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center’s Stuyvesant Square Chemical Dependency Services. She has worked with persons struggling with substance use for over 30 years 

Click here to hear the interview with Miriam Fridman RN

Tune into Healthstyles on Thursday, February 9, 2015, from 1:00 to 2:00 PM for this 2 hour special on WBAI, 99.5 FM in New York City (www.wbai.org).

Healthstyles on January8, 2015: One Nurse’s Ebola Story

WBAIOne of the major stories in 2014 was the Ebola crisis. Actually, the story’s beginnings in West Africa received relatively little media attention, despite the rapid increase in new cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea throughout the spring and summer, with initial death rates ranging from 50% to 90%.

Then a nurse and a physician who had become sick with Ebola in West Africa were flown to the U.S. for treatment. They survived, but Donald Trump got media attention with his call to ban other American health care workers with Ebola from returning to the U.S. for treatment.

On September 30th, the CDC reported that the first case of Ebola had been diagnosed in the U.S. Thomas Eric Duncan was a Liberian man who arrived by plane in Dallas, Texas, at the end of September to visit his finance. Prior to leaving Liberia, he had been with people who had Ebola. Duncan became ill, and was initially sent home after being seen at Dallas Presbyterian Hospital. But he got sicker and subsequently tested positive for Ebola. He was hospitalized at Dallas Presbyterian and died on October 8th. He was the first person to die of Ebola in the US.

The media frenzy began.

The diagnosis of two people coming into the U.S. with Ebola and two nurses becoming ill after exposure in a U.S. hospital led to an escalation of media coverage of Ebola that bordered on fear-mongering. It led to calls for banning flights from West Africa and quarantining all Americans who have contact with people with Ebola. But the initial media coverage brought hope to those who knew that bringing public attention to the health, humanitarian, and economic impact of Ebola in West Africa was essential to get the West’s attention and resources to bear on the crisis. Unfortunately, American media’s attention was on Ebola in America, with only limited attention to what was going on in West Africa.

The media is fickle. One minute media coverage of one issue is unrelenting and terribly redundant. The next minute, there’s no attention to the issue. It’s been six weeks since Craig Spencer was discharged from New York’s Bellevue Hospital and over two months since a case of Ebola was diagnosed in this country. What media coverage of what is happening in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have you seen?

The silence is deafening, as we approach 20,000 cases of Ebola in West Africa, almost 8000 of whom have died, compared with 4 cases in the U.S. and one death of a man who was diagnosed late in the illness.

On Thursday, January 8, 2015, at 1:00 PM, Healthstyles once again focuses on the story of Ebola. Host Diana Mason, RN, PhD, interviews nurse Deborah Wilson, RN, a nurse who spent six weeks in Foya, Liberia, caring for patients at an Ebola Treatment Center run by Doctors Without Borders. Her return to the U.S. coincided with the two Dallas nurses being diagnosed with Ebola, so she experienced the paranoia of friends, family, and colleagues whose fear of becoming infected was out of proportion to the realities of the disease. Mason and Wilson reflect on what happened in 2014 and what the implications are for 2015.

So tune into Healthstyles on January 8th, from 1:00 to 1:55 PM on WBAI, 99.5 FM, New York City, or at http://www.wbai.org. To listen to the interview any time, click here:

What Would #ThisNurse Say? Nurse Pham: You’re a Hero. Media: More Nursing, Less Puppy Love.

This post is by CHMP’s graduate fellow, Amanda Anderson, RN. Amanda is a practicing bedside nurse in Manhattan, and a student in the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing‘s dual MSN/MPA program with Baruch College. At HBSON, she co-directs The Nurses Writing Project, a nurse-specific writing program that uses peer-based collaborative writing assistance and reflective writing practices to grow nurse leadership via the written word. She blogs here, and for a number of other nursing sites. Find her clips via her blog, This Nurse Wonders. She tweets @12hourRNcalllightI think it’s safe to say that most of us can detect when the media is spinning a story. Whether telling or being told, news is often flung wildly across print, television and social media at the whim of the deliverer. We all know the power the media has to shape the way we think, just as much as we all know what to expect when we turn on Fox News.

But since we’re rarely included in the media, nurses may not realize that this week, we became its biggest victim. Our poster child? America’s first recipient of transmitted Ebola, Nurse Nina Pham of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

On Tuesday, likely to quell the anger of nurses over the CDC’s wording on the cause of Pham’s diagnosis, the Times ran the story, “Ebola Puts Nina Pham, a Nurse Unaccustomed to the Spotlight, in Its Glare” Written by Jack Healy, the story came nicely packaged with a photo of the young, beautiful woman on her cell phone, assurances of Nurse Pham’s stable state of rest, that she checks her charts twice, and that her little dog is safe.

To pick one story on this evolving topic is difficult. But I believe a quick dissection of the Times initial coverage of Nurse Pham is most vital to the nursing community in our current state of Ebola dialogue. With it, the media has stuck us in the age-old angel corner, and in doing so, largely distracted us from spinning our own evidence-based, intelligent tale.

Here’s where I think we, the expert nursing community, went missing in this piece, and what we might have added by way of a credible, clear and constructive defense to Nurse Pham, and an attempt to gain control of the dialogue about nursing in the shadow of Ebola.

Nurse Pham is a professional.

The Times cited a friend of Pham’s, a Jennifer Joseph, titling her simply as a former colleague. Joseph later outs herself as a nurse, saying that Pham helped her orient to the ICU. She also speaks on Pham’s character, which is the only instance when the Times spins Pham’s breach – she’s a conscientious, nice nurse, how could have…made a human error?

Not once does the Times speak of Pham’s experience as a nurse. They disclose that she graduated from an accelerated degree program, but they do not tell the public what this means – that this is the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree. No quantification of her experience as an ICU nurse is made.

How different the spin of this article would have been if the reporter included the remarks and expertise of an experienced nurse to address Pham’s ICU experience, professionalism, and the role that the hospital played – or did not play – in preparing their nursing staff. This missed media opportunity likely did little but distract a public already entering mid-panic over the competency and protection of its most trusted profession.

Whether Pham has little ICU experience, or she is a nationally recognized critical care specialist, a discussion of her professionalism as a nurse by a nurse, remains an opportunity too valuable to miss. Without our voices, the Times spins us into the numb land of human interest – beautiful, young, saintly nurse turned patient – and away from a much-needed dialogue on what makes a nurse credibile, and what a credible nurse actually does at the bedside.

Nurse Pham is a victim of poor training.

As an experienced MICU nurse who cared for critically ill patients during the deadly 2008 H1N1 epidemic, my first question about Nurse Pham would have been: “What was the protocol that she breached, and how did her hospital prepare her?” Instead, this article had me wondering what might happen to her dog. By focusing on personal attributes, the media created a cause, but with it, a distraction. Now, days and diagnoses later, the truth of the hospital’s state of unpreparedness has finally surfaced via the voice of an angry nurse employee.

Whose fault is this initial soft spin? In my opinion, the nursing profession should shoulder part of the blame. Barring a very outspoken nursing union and a lot of social media drivel, many of us are not asking critical questions to critical media contributors. What exactly happened in that Texas hospital? Did the journalist reach out to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and ask to speak to an expert infectious control nurse or nurse epidemiologist? Are these nurse experts reaching out to the media to pitch themselves as experts?

Likely, the question we all want an answer to – “What went wrong?” – will not be subject to conjecture for quite some time. Our outside perspective but inside nursing knowledge is direly needed to spin nursing’s take. By asking about the nature of Pham’s training and her employer’s lack of preparedness, expert nurse voice could act as the vehicle for shifting the Ebola debate towards the discussion of a systems-level problem of neglect towards nurses, that existed long before the virus entered our land.

Nurse Pham should be our example, not our media darling.

While my thoughts go out to Nurse Pham, who is undergoing what I can only define as every nurse’s nightmare, I think we do ourselves a disservice as a profession to jump into the human spin of her story. As American Academy of Nursing president, Diana Mason aptly said to NPR this week, “If your hospital’s not prepared for Ebola, the nurses will know it.” When we focus on fluff, and do not speak critically with the media on the details of our care, we keep vital, nurse-specific observation points from policy makers.

Want the CDC to change their PPE protocol? Stop threatening to strike for specific items and instead study their recommendations on PPE procedure. Look at pictures of Ebola in Africa; recognize its theft of humanity, and that it is a threat to many more lives than just our own.

Then, talk to your media outlets and spin nursing’s story in ways that count. Talk about your experiences with PPE training, now and in the past. Call in to your local radio station about the quality of your PPE at work and what it feels like to wear it – in an unbiased, factual manner. When you see a CDC policy that makes you scratch your head, refrain from tweeting it with a thoughtless comment, and look into it. Could you explain it better?

Ebola is nursing’s tracer-test – it exposes just how unsupported, and yet just how crucial we really are to America’s health. We should move away from blanket statements based in fear and not fact. Using Nurse Pham as our example, we must make ourselves available to the media as the experts that we are, demanding the policies necessary for vigilant Ebola care, while offering our expertise for their creation.

New Thursday Column: What Would #ThisNurse Say?

This post is by CHMP’s graduate fellow, Amanda Anderson, RN. Amanda is a practicing bedside nurse in Manhattan, and a student in the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing‘s dual MSN/MPA program with Baruch College. At HBSON, she co-directs The Nurses Writing Project, a nurse-specific writing program that uses peer-based collaborative writing assistance and reflective writing practices to grow nurse leadership via the written word. She blogs here, and for a number of other nursing sites. Find her clips via her blog, This Nurse Wonders. She tweets @12hourRN

I love the New York Times, I really do. Above the shower in my tiny, windowless bathroom, hangs a clipped front page from March 17, 2004. A woman walks in front of a bodega’s flower display as snowflakes fall. She holds a cell phone, and like a true New Yorker, goes unphased by the flowers, the snow, and their ironically beautiful combination. I loved this photo then, when I was in college in rural Ohio – it was the personification of a city I knew I was destined for. I love it now, as I walk the same streets and continue to read the same paper.

But the longer I read, the more I realize that my beloved Times really doesn’t love me back. Sure, it loves me, the student, the reader, the art lover, and the citizen. But my New York Times doesn’t love me, the nurse. Day after day, I open to stories about topics that lead directly into the world of nursing – health care policy, Ebola coverage, even business innovations –with word after word, and quote after quote blatantly devoid of the opinions of our country’s largest and most trusted profession.

An article in today’s NYT discusses Ebola preparedness in New York City hospitals. Although “nurse,” and “the nurses,” are used in descriptions of personal protective equipment (PPE) upgrades, nurse opinion is not cited. An opportunity for public education on the risks of transmission is missed (arrow) – a perfect place for an experienced nurse to explain the process of donning, wearing, and removing PPE. The only nurse quoted in the article remains unnamed, described as, ” not authorized,” for identified comment, despite assumed position as a hospital employee.

I’ve written a few reflections about this absence on my own blog, and for HealthCetera. Many center around the seminal book, From Silence to Voice, where authors Bernice Buresh and Suzanne Gordon discuss the absence of nursing voice in mainstream media, and why this is a problem in dire need of a solution.

I believe our absence in papers like the Times says much more than any misquote or unauthorized sound bite we might fear – our silence infers that we, the nursing profession, has nothing to say. But from my experience at the bedside and in the policy world, I know this isn’t true; nurses have more to say that matters than most partners in health care teams. Maybe we just don’t realize this?

So, from now until I start seeing active solicitation of expert nurse opinion in my daily paper, I’ll write a column here on HealthCetera. This column, called, “What Would #ThisNurse Say?” will take one news article each week, and discuss the absence of nursing voice within its contents. It will then shed light onto what the article might look like with the presence of nursing voice. I’ll also give you tips on how to reach out to your local papers as a nurse expert, who to talk to at work to get your expert-quotes approved, and where to go when you want the inside-scoop on news from a nursing perspective.

Nursing is big, but we’re often ignored. We’re vital, but we’re always fighting replacement. Perhaps it’s time to enter into the media arena as the experts we are in the bedside arena – one newspaper quote after another. Join me every Thursday, here on HealthCetera, to do just that.

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