ADS Nurses Provide Essential Care and Support

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Did you know that the City of Seattle has nurses on staff? Many people are surprised to learn that the Aging and Disability Services (ADS) Case Management Program employs nurses. Currently, ADS has nine nurses who work as nurse consultants and care transition coaches. Two of the nurses also work as chronic care managers.

I have been a RN for over 35 years. I was hired by the City of Seattle in 1996 as an Oversight Nurse. Currently I work in the ADS planning unit. Though my jobs have changed over these 18 years, the importance of nursing has remained clear. With the support of creative and visionary managers, our agency embraced new and innovative programs, including King County Care Partners. Having received national awards, it clearly outlined how nursing enriches the social services our agency provides to clients, often at their most vulnerable time when they are most in need.

ADS nurses serving Seattle include (left to right) Wyvonne Ray, RN Consultant; Mary Pat O'Leary, RN, Planner; Janice Nelson, RN Consultant/Chronic Care Management; Tia Hallberg, RN Consultant/ Chronic Care Management; Carol Furusho, RN Consultant; and Geni Sheikh, RN Consultant.

As a nurse I have witnessed life and death. From the birth of a baby to the death of patients, I have sat at the bedside, offering support, comfort, and reassurance. It has always been a privilege to be a part of a person's journey.

ADS nurses do their work with energy, professionalism, and compassion. They know the importance of establishing a solid, trusting relationship before any care coordination and care planning can begin. With the patient population we serve, staff must remain flexible—it's difficult to predict when a patient will be ready and willing to engage.

Our nursing staff collaborates with social workers and case managers to serve the most medically complex patients. A Harborview doctor once told an ADS RN care manager that his patient was "doomed" before he started working with her. This patient received services and now has an improved quality of life.

ADS nurses serving south King County include (left to right) Jeannie Nguyen, RN Consultant; Georgette Hill, RN Consultant/Chronic Care Management; Sucdi Mohamed, RN Consultant; and Jan Hoover, RN Consultant.

Another doctor said he watched an ADS RN care manager who sat quietly alongside the patient, providing strong unspoken support to someone facing significant challenges. He said that, even though the nurse no longer works with his patient, a part of her remains. The doctor feels she still watches to make sure he keeps using the principles of Motivational Interviewing—a highly successful, collaborative,  patient-centered form of conversation that elicits and strengthens motivation for change. Longtime advocates of the strategy, ADS RNs are particularly skilled at engaging patients in this way.

One example of complexity is an ADS client who suffered the loss of both legs and one arm, and was evicted from her apartment. The RN care manager assisted her in finding affordable housing and setting up a home with in-home care services and supports.

Education, teaching, coaching, and guidance are all key aspects of nursing services. Nurses are taught to think holistically, as the patient is more than a disease or specific disability. ADS nurses review medications, assist in determining the need for equipment and services, and offer their skill and expertise in developing service plans for long-term care case management clients.

Nurses frequently share this quote: "When you are a nurse, you know that every day you will touch a life, or a life will touch yours."

Please join me in thanking our ADS nurses, as well family members and friends who are nurses and the nurses at your doctor's office and in the hospital, for touching our lives each and every day, in so many ways.

Contributor Mary Patricia O'Leary RN, BSN is a planner with Aging and Disability Services. Her clinical skills have been invaluable in developing care coordination plans for long-term care case management clients and for improving transitions of care that reduce chances of re-hospitalization.

National Nurses Week

May 6–May 12, 2014

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, the birth date of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. It is a time to reflect on the important contributions that nurses make as providers of safe, high-quality health care and as patient advocates and educators. For more information, visit the American Nurses Association website.