ABPANC Advocacy Award Winners and Stories
The 6th annual ABPANC Advocacy Award was presented at the CPAN®/CAPA® Celebration Breakfast May 1, 2006 to a very surprised Sara Waldron, BSN, RN, CPAN, Staff Nurse, at Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital, PACU, in Tucson, Arizona. This award publicly recognizes a CPAN or CAPA certified nurse who exemplifies leadership as a patient advocate and is the highest accolade given to a certified nurse. Nominated by a colleague, Eileen Dalton, Eileen wrote a story describing only one of many instances when Sara truly advocated for a patient.
Sara was presented with the beautiful Lladro Nurse Statue and a scholarship for her next recertification fee. Eileen, as the individual who took the time to submit the story, received a $100 cash award. The unit in which Sara and Eileen work received a $350 award to use for certification/recertification fees, books, or continuing education.
This one example of being a patient advocate relays what you need to know about this year’s advocacy award recipient.
An 81 year old gentleman has volunteered in our PACU and outpatient center for over 17 years. He is more than a worker and volunteer — he is family. He is always asking about our families, joining us for potluck dinners, and even singing to us. He is a former Marine and has never had trouble finding answers and verbalizing his opinions until July 2005 when he was brought to the hospital by ambulance after collapsing at home. He was septic from a wound on his leg. There was concern the leg might be amputated. While in our hospital he made five trips through the OR and the PACU for multiple debriedement and Wound Vac placement. Of course he was always cared for like family by the family of hospital colleagues with whom he volunteered. He was too sick to be his own advocate and needed our guidance and support.
Today’s nominee would visit him several times a week often skipping in to see him between transferring patients to their post op rooms or on her return to the PACU. These visits continued after work as well. She would keep him informed of the happenings with all the team in the PACU, make his room comfortable, make sure his call light was always in reach, delivered cards she had asked the periop team to sign, and make him smile with special balloons — anything to just brighten his day. Medicine for him was having the team visit regularly and our nominee made sure there was a constant stream of well wishers to booster his spirits. She kept the team well informed of his progress never forgetting the need to be confidential and protective of his personal history. She never lost sight of the patient’s need for personhood and dignity as he was so well known to the perioperative team.
Many times during visits she would encounter family and soon learned that an adult daughter was the primary contact for supervising her father’s progress by taking in details and relaying information to family. She quickly gained the daughter’s trust and soon became the constant contact for any and all questions that just seemed to large to understand. She answered questions about surgical procedures, appropriate post op goals, medications and the Wound Vac. She gave information with competence and professionalism and encouraged the daughter to ask questions of other practitioners and encouraged her to expect answers and support. She maximized the patient’s and family’s opportunity to take control over a situation that was frightening and overwhelming. She restored confidence and dignity to a feisty ex-Marine and his family.
After six weeks in the hospital and limited mobility — Rehab was next. This very competent certified perianesthesia nurse continued to support and encourage the family right up until time for release for the patient to go home. She lead by example to be an advocate so it was much easier for the patient and family to continue to ask questions, express concerns and seek alternative resources throughout the Rehab experience. One evening at the rehab facility the daughter noticed a problem with the Wound Vac and was able to trouble shoot and be her fathers advocate using the advice she learned from our nominee. She was unable to find a new collection receptacle needed for the device and calmly called the PACU. One of the staff located the proper placement device and gave it to the daughter to keep the Wound Vac functioning properly.
Our volunteer is now home. As of Veteran’s Day he had recovered enough to join the PACU for a potluck in his honor. In early Jan. his car keys were returned and personal freedom restored. His is back to normal, asking questions and offering his opinion.
What is amazing about this story is our nominee never saw herself as going above and beyond. To her this was not difficult, different or spectacular — just doing what any Certified PeriAnesthesia Nurse would do in similar circumstances. It is her example that encourages our team to be aware of not just the immediate post op needs of our patients but to get involved and teach them to be their own advocates. She is very much about being with the patient — present to all needs, providing emotional and informational support to the patient and the family and certainly knows how to guide patients and families through emotionally difficult surgical situations. She is always kind, professional, and willing to intervene on behalf of any patient/family in need of a healthcare advocate. She is a dedicated CPAN and has encouraged many in our hospital and component to accept the certification challenge.