May/June 2017   Comments

Another take on genetically modified food

I was frustrated with the section on proposals for genetically modified food labelling in “Food for Thought” (Feature, March/April). It continued the fear mongering perpetuated by talking heads who know little to nothing about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the agriculture industry. Growing up in a farm family that proudly grows GMO crops, I was appalled that this legislation is being taken at face value by nearly every non-agricultural sector, including health care. Are we not telling our patients, seemingly all the time, to be careful about where they get their health information from? Well, that should go for agriculture information, too.

I know of many competent organizations and individuals in the industry that are able to provide answers about the food we (and our patients) eat. One of these individuals is Sarah Schultz, who has refuted many of the major myths surrounding GMOs. She blogs at Nurse Loves Farmer about life on an Alberta grain farm. She’s also an RN, making her opinion that much more valuable for those of us in the profession.

Other voices include Ask the Farmers. This site answers consumers’ questions about food safety and where food comes from. Lastly, I recommend readers check out Joe Schwarcz, a highly regarded scientist and author out of McGill University, who has also debunked much of the bad information surrounding GMOs. It is high time the voices with the most knowledge are allowed to speak out.

– Amanda Hagel, RN
Estevan, Sask.

Espousing hands-on care

I believe many patients in Canadian hospitals are in dire need of the human contact Debra North is teaching her nursing students to focus on (Commentary, January/February). I recently had the experience of multiple emergency room visits, two admissions, two surgeries and many procedures. These were all completed at a large teaching facility in a major Canadian city. Not once during any of my time as a patient did a nurse auscultate my chest. My abdomen was neither auscultated nor palpated. My skin was not checked. Pulses and grip strength were not assessed. And I could go on and on.

I was treated with utmost kindness by very pleasant staff. However, their assessment skills were sorely lacking. So much can be learned from just a gentle touch and a moment spent listening. I learned how to nurse in an era when everything was done manually, from blood pressure measurement to blood glucose monitoring. I carry these skills with me today and apply them to each patient I care for.

Machines can never, and will never, replace good old-fashioned hands-on care.

– Michelle Merry, RN, BA
Richmond, B.C.

I totally agree with Debra North. In the long-term care facility I work in, the LPNs seem to rely solely on the “nurse on a pole” to record the vital signs of our residents, even after a resident falls. Often, the device is not functioning properly and the vital signs are abnormal initially, due to the resident’s anxiety. It would be much more effective to take a manual pulse and respirations initially and do a head-to-toe assessment to let the person settle.

I agree that cellphones should not be allowed during clinical practicums. Ensuring students get into the habit of wearing a watch with a second hand would make them less dependent on the mechanical nurse.

– Ann Stoughton, RN
Kamloops, B.C.

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