• Care, Compassion and Safety, key elements for nurses at Rome Memorial Hospital

    Taking care of patients and reassuring families at some of the most frightening and emotional moments of life is a daily occurrence for nurses, requiring extensive training, skill and ability. At Rome Memorial Hospital and its affiliates, there are more than 250 dedicated nurses providing quality care for the community.

    National Nurses’ Week, this year May 6-12, is celebrated each year to recognize a profession that is by its very nature the epitome of compassion. As the field of nursing keeps pace with the constantly changing world of medical care, the one aspect that has remained the same is the caring nature of the women and men who choose to become nurses.

    Shirley Smith RN is one of the many compassionate dedicated nurses working at Rome Memorial Hospital. In her 38 year career at the hospital, Smith has seen a lot of changes to the ways nurses perform their duties, but, she says, from the newest hires to those she has worked with for years, nurses have not changed.

    “Caring for people is usually what makes a person want to become a nurse,” Smith said. “It’s being able to help someone in need that makes nursing so rewarding. Kindness, compassion and caring, these are the things that make a good nurse.”

    One change in nursing is that today’s nurses are receiving even more education than ever before, according to Smith. “A lot of nurses are earning master’s degrees and nearly all those finishing nursing school now go on to complete their bachelor’s degree,” she said. Nurses also continue to learn through credentialing programs and specialty certifications.

    “Continued education while on the job is more important than ever,” Smith said. “With the constant advancements in patient care, nurses have to adapt and stay current.”

    The theme of this year’s Nurses Week is “Culture of Safety… It Starts with You.” Smith said that patient safety has always been the number one priority for nurses at Rome Memorial Hospital; however computer technology provides patients with an added measure of protection.

    “Although nurses have always trained to be extremely careful, computers have changed everything,” Smith said. “Today we use computers to dispense medications and utilize a patient bar-coded wrist band to assure that the correct medication is given to the correct patient.”

    Smith said that even with the advancements in computer tracking, verbal confirmations are still used to assure that all care givers and even the patients themselves acknowledge patient identification information.

    “When a patient is going into surgery, they may be asked the same questions over and over,” Smith explained. “Their name, date of birth and allergies are important information in assuring the patient receives the correct care. A nurse is usually the last person in the chain to make sure all safety procedures were applied.”

    Throughout her career, Smith has worked in a variety of departments at Rome Memorial Hospital, including the Critical Care Unit, Endoscopy and Ambulatory Surgery. Today she is the hospital’s pre-operative coordinator, who collaborates with the surgeons and their offices to ensure that patients are well informed before their surgical procedure.

    Surgeons at Rome Memorial Hospital have the expertise to perform a broad range of surgical procedures from general surgery for hernia repair, gallbladder removal or breast disease to advanced thoracic procedures for lung and esophageal cancer. Specialists in orthopedics, gynecology, pulmonology, podiatry, ENT, urology and others bring their patients to Rome Memorial Hospital, which is top rated among hospitals in the region for protecting patients against surgical infections.

    “At Rome Memorial Hospital, we take a comprehensive approach with proven strategies that are ingrained into the every-day practices of our surgeons and caregivers,” Smith said.

    “Surgical patients start with me at the hospital,” Smith said. “In this nursing position, I provide education, coordination of care, clinical information and sometimes a shoulder to cry on. Patients who are facing surgery, no matter how minor, are often afraid. My job is to listen to their concerns, answer their questions, and educate them about what they can expect and how they need to prepare for their surgery.”

    “For patients, no matter what department of the hospital they are in, the most important thing a nurse can do for them is to show them how much they really care,” Smith said. “Like so many of the nurses I work with, I love my patients. Beyond all the education and training, the most important skills a nurse can have are empathy and common sense. Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most to patients, like putting a warm blanket around their shoulders when they are waiting to go into surgery, a calm and gentle voice of reassurance, or understanding the importance of keeping their family informed. These are the qualities that truly make a nurse a nurse.”

    Shirley Smith+
    COMPASSIONATE CARE GIVER – With nearly 40 years of experience, Shirley Smith is one of the more than 250 nurses who provide expert care with compassion at Rome Memorial Hospital and its affiliates. Recognizing the contributions of all those in the nursing profession, the hospital is celebrating National Nurses Week, May 6-12.