July / August 2017   Comments

Technological revolution

As I read the article on artificial intelligence and automation (May/June), I was reminded of how an electronic health record was introduced at our hospital. It was rolled out with much fanfare and taped testimonials from teary-eyed doctors about the wonders of this technological revolution in health care. Then reality set in. Eighty American nurses and IT specialists descended on our hospital, instructing us on how to scan drugs and use the new interface. It was not a joyous time. The program was months late arriving. Once it was in place, there began a constant wave of changes to the core program and backlash from the actual users. The benefits included real-time access to notes and lab reports, but we have also dealt with frozen screens, lost nursing notes, and misunderstood and incorrect orders.

I called IT one Saturday night about a computer program malfunction and was told the problem couldn’t be addressed until Monday morning. I guess my point is that technology has to be adaptive to the ever-changing health-care environment and designed with the nurse or patient in mind.

Under the EHR’s Nursing Intervention tab, there is a vibration therapy option that I have yet to find a use for (unless it’s meant to mimic the sound of my head banging against my desk).

– Adam Henderson, RN, BScN
Nanaimo, B.C.

Truly integrated care

I agree with Cheyenne Johnson (Last Word, May/June) that substance use and addiction care occur in silos, even in a progressive city like Vancouver. I think that part of embracing a harm reduction approach is being able to successfully view those we provide care for from their perspective, rather than our own, and honour them as the experts in their life experience. This is one of the major principles of the recovery approach in mental health care, which at its core is centred on the person and the family. Like Johnson, I believe that we compartmentalize care in the Canadian health-care system. In my nine-year nursing career, advances have been made in providing holistic and person-centred care for people living with concurrent mental health and substance use issues. I believe that with continued recognition that this is the right way to go, we will get to a place where care is truly integrated.

– Michelle C. Danda, MN, RN, CPMHN(C)
New Westminster, B.C.


During National Nursing Week, I couldn’t help but reflect on the impact my practice has had on patients and colleagues alike. But I was also compelled to think about the impact nursing has had on me. I grew up in a home where I experienced multiple forms of abuse. Luckily, I realized that doing well in school was the key to ensuring I had opportunities to build a different life. I also knew what kind of life I wanted. My mother must have sensed it too, because she pushed me to go into nursing. Nursing saved my life, quite literally. I went to a different city to get my nursing diploma. Once I graduated, I could go anywhere and be any kind of nurse I wanted. Nursing allowed me to become financially independent and confident in who I am as a person and in what I can contribute to society. I obtained my degree and have a very fulfilling job as an educator. I am married, have two wonderful sons and still absolutely love what I do.

– Michele Haire, RN, BScN, CRN(C)
Halifax, N.S.

I was recently at a meeting with two other women in nursing, and we had a brief conversation about retirement. I retired at the end of March; another retired about two years ago. The youngest in the group, who is still practising, said she supposed she could become “a cheesy office nurse” (allowing her to keep working, as opposed to retiring soon).

I write this during National Nursing Week, with the hope that we can all remember to honour one another and our work — regardless of where it takes place! Getting divorced when my children were young dictated that I move to a non-shift-work setting, and I decided to become an office nurse in our community. It’s been many years since I pushed IV meds, changed major abdominal wound dressings or suctioned a tracheotomy. However, my work with patients who trusted me with their health concerns, stories and life journeys is just as valuable as that of a nurse in any other setting. The care I provided was always the highest quality and the best I could give. I did my research and continued my education so I could provide up-to-date information and treatment. It’s how we nurse and not where we work that really matters.

– Barbara (Marsh) Ebbers, RN, FPN
Foothills Hospital, Class of 1971
Ardrossan, Alta.

There’s more to it than simply reading food labels

I wanted to applaud Canadian Nurse for highlighting the need for fundamental changes in how our food is marketed and chosen (“Food for Thought,” March/April).

Learning to read labels is just as important as gaining an understanding of the effects of excessive consumption of processed carbohydrates on people with chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes and hypertension and on the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Public health’s promotion of carbohydrate intake over saturated fat in the 1980s had a negative impact on our health. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup replaced saturated fat in store-bought foods and were also added to normally unsweetened foods. These products are high in calories but lack vitamins and fibre. They spike blood sugar and insulin secretion to create a roller-coaster of energy highs and lows. Canadians are becoming sicker and more overweight because they are consuming breads, cereals, chips, crackers and cakes, and drinking smoothies, juice and soda.

Increasingly, research supports reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing natural fats to promote satiety and reduce cravings for foods with added sugar. It behooves us to educate ourselves on these subjects so we may advocate for healthier alternatives.

– Emily Durant, BScN, RN
Halifax, N.S.

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