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Apple’s iTouch and iPhones connect nurses in Florida hospital

On any given day at Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System in Florida, the overhead page was going off every three minutes. And when a patient is in pain and trying to recover, that can be an issue.

So Sarasota Memorial brought peace and quiet—along with improved healthcare—to its hospital by supplying Apple’s iTouch to its nurses.

With help from Voalte, a startup developing point-of-care communications company that uses mobile technology, Sarasota began a 60-day pilot program in June where 25 iPod Touches were given to nurses on one specific floor with the goal of reducing the amount of noise and inefficiency involved in paging.

The iTouches reduced the number of pages in eight hours from 172 to 38, while the devices received an average of 4,000 messages a day—along with positive comments from the patients on the floor. [more]

California nurses union calls off strike about H1N1

Last week, the California Nurses Union (CNU/NNOC) reached a dramatic settlement that prevented a nurse strike and will establish a national standard on containing the spread of pandemics such as H1N1, also known as the “swine flu.”

Originally set to strike on October 30—over the issue of protecting nurses from the H1N1 virus—CNU/NNOC called off the strike on Tuesday, October 27. The strike would have involved more than 13,000 registered nurses in 32 hospitals in the San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) hospitals in California and Nevada.

The new agreement calls for the creation of a systemwide task force where CNA/NNOC RNs and hospital representatives will focus on the declaration of pandemic emergencies with the help of facility infection control teams. The task force will monitor the full implementation of federal, state, and local guidelines. They will also set up standards regarding checking the availability of proper safety equipment, communication and training policies for all hospital personnel, and consideration of off-site emergency triage and treatment.

Under the settlement, all CHW facilities need an employer agreement to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with those rules set in the CNA/NNOC contract. All CHW nurses will be provided the proper equipment and attire to prevent further spread of any virus, and facilities will provide each staff member with the proper training and information on communicable diseases to which they may have been exposed.

Forty-eight states have now reported widespread flu activity, and the death toll from the H1N1 virus in the United States has climbed to more than 1,000 cases, including more than 100 children. Thirty million doses of the vaccine have gone out to health departments, physician’s offices, and other providers, with hopes of delivering 120 million in the near future.

Does your facility provide staff members with education about pandemics? Do you think other states will follow California’s example? What are ways your facility helps prevent the spread of H1N1 virus?

To vaccine or not! The results are in…

In a recent poll question on and readers were asked whether they were going to get an H1N1 vaccination.

The results are in, and 55% of readers said they planned to get the vaccine, as opposed to 45% who said they would not.

On the StressedOutNurses Web site, 52% of readers said they would be getting the vaccine, while 18% said they had not yet decided.

What do you plan to do? Post your comment and tell us if you’ve received your H1N1 vaccine or not!

Let your voice be heard on the future of nursing

The Initiative on the Future of Nursing was launched at the beginning of 2009 by the Institute of Medicine, in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The committee’s aim is to produce a report in 2010 about how nursing can evolve to fit the ever-changing healthcare system, and they are asking nurses from around the country to voice their opinions on the future of nursing.

Over the next few months, the committee will examine, debate, and review evidence submitted from around the country in an effort to develop a blueprint for change. The nursing community is being asked to submit innovations/models and barriers/opportunities for the committee to review.

To submit suggestions and comments to the committee, visit or e-mail

Officially, the committee will review the following areas:

  • Reconceptualizing the role of nurses
  • Expanding nursing faculty, increasing the capacity of nursing schools, and redesigning nursing education
  • Care delivery and health professional education
  • Attracting and retaining well-prepared nurses [more]

Interactive Web site helps determine when flu symptoms are serious and when to seek help

Trying to decide whether that cough and on and off fever is something you should go see your doctor about? Debating to wait in the crowded Emergency Room for hours to see if you have swine flu? Well, what if you could determine the severity of your symptoms and whether a visit to the doctor is necessary, without ever leaving the comfort of your own home.

Microsoft has launched an interactive Web site; H1N1 Response Center, that will help determine just that. Using an assessment tool licensed by Emory University, the Web site aims to help consumers’ determine whether or not their symptoms are consistent with the H1N1 virus and if they should seek medical help. [more]

Different ways peers are improving nurse satisfaction

The July 28 blog post discussing ways to boost nurse morale in a time of uncertainty has been one of the most popular recent topics. The post provided quick and helpful hints on no- or low-cost ways to boost the morale of nurses in your organizations. The post also generated a lot of discussion and many readers shared their own tips and strategies about what they have been trying.

Here are some of the highlights of the suggestions:

  • Caught red handed campaign: Recognize staff members who have been “caught” doing their job well.
  • Gift cards: Present a gift card to acknowledge a nurse who has gone out of his or her way to be an excellent nurse.
  • Strive for five: Leave small questionnaires in plain sight of patients, visitors, and hospital staff members and ask everyone to fill them out. The person can comment on a particular staff member doing an excellent job, similar to a comment card at a restaurant. Any staff member receiving a good comment earns $10 on the next pay check.
  • Hand written thank-you cards: Thank-you cards are always a great thing, but hand written ones can be the best. Instead of sending an email about a job well done to a staff member, write a thank-you card and leave it in their locker. After a tough shift, whether it’s night call or day call, the card will surely bring a smile to their face.
  • The stupid nice game: Be over-the-top nice to everyone and overly complimentary to everyone at the hospital. Laughter is contagious, and sometimes taking the compliment to the next level, or having staff members realize how over the top you are being, could make their day that much better.

What are you doing at your organization to help boost staff members’ morale?

Nurses use artistic talents to improve patient experience and hospital atmosphere

This past summer, nurses Mary Cohn and Annette Bargmann of Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) in Parole, MD, visited patient rooms armed not with medication, but with acrylic paint.

AAMC is undergoing a series of renovations that have necessitated many windows in the acute care pavilion being covered with a film to darken the windows toshield patients from the occasional glare of the construction equipment and provide more privacy. This film has replaced the natural light flooding into patient rooms and has created a gloomy atmosphere. [more]

Mercy: An in or out for nurses and their image?

Last night was the season premiere of NBC’s new nursing series; Mercy and we want to know what you thought.

Many nurses hoped this show would be different from Showtimes’ Nurse Jackie and TNT’s HawthoRNe. But as I read more and more comments on NBC’s Web site from viewers who watched last night’s premiere, it seems that this show is off to a rough start. [more]

Will new television series Mercy shine a different light on nursing image?

As this summer’s new nursing series: Nurse Jackie and HawthoRNe have reached their season’s end, it’s time for a new fall series to pick up; Mercy.

Mercy debuts tonight on NBC at 8pm EST and hopes to change the way nurses are portrayed on television. What makes this series different than Nurse Jackie and HawthoRNe, is that writers for Mercy have been using an RN consultant when it comes to developing story ideas and script reviews for the series.


Pandemic preparation: How to prepare for swine flu

As the fall and winter months approach, hospitals are gearing up for more than the average flu season. Officials are predicting that the outbreak of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, will hit the country much harder than in the spring and that as many as half the population may become infected.

The Washington Post reports the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has warned that as many as 1.8 million people could be hospitalized by the H1N1 virus, causing as many as 90,000 deaths. The 86-page report offers guidance on the nation’s response to the first influenza pandemic in 41 years. [more]