By Linda Dowling, RN
In my role as lung cancer screening coordinator at Rush, I have the pleasure of working on a program that has the ability to save lives by identifying lung cancer that otherwise would go undetected.
In doing so, I hope to spare my patients and their families the sadness and grief one experiences when diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. I know and understand lung cancer on a very personal level.
To understand my relationship with this disease, one has to learn a bit more about me. Here is my story.
I always wanted to be a nurse. When I graduated from high school, my family encouraged me to focus my career on business. I held positions in advertising and marketing. Looking back, I was always restless and never quite satisfied with my work.
‘Love, laughter, tears’
Fast forward many years to helping my mother, a widowed lifelong smoker, who recently downsized to a senior apartment. Tired and blaming the move for her unsteady gait, in the back of my mind, I wondered if she might have a brain tumor because of lung cancer. My worst fears came true when a few weeks later she was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer that already spread to her brain.
By Chris Spaletto, MAAT, ATR, and Kevin Pittman, RN, BSN
If you are on the Rush campus this week, you may see us giving purple-and-teal-colored ribbons to passersby. As clinicians at the Rush Day Hospital — the outpatient adult program in the Department of Psychiatry — we and other psychiatry units at Rush are doing our part to promote awareness of National Suicide Prevention Week.
The Rush Day Hospital treats people 18 years and older diagnosed with affective disorders and other conditions that interfere with relationships and daily functioning. We work collaboratively as a team, which includes nursing, social work, art therapy and a psychiatrist who serves as our medical director.
Here are some important facts about suicide:
- In the United States, 50 percent more people die by suicide each year than from homicide.
- Experts believe that most suicidal individuals do not want to die. They just want to end the pain.
- When suicide risk or intent is detected early, lives can be saved.
By Katie Exner, MSN
There’s a saying that nurses make the worst patients. Now I understand why, and it makes me even prouder of my fellow nurses and the work we do every day.
I’m an advanced practice nurse who has worked in Rush for the past three years. I also recently gave birth to my twin sons at Rush.
I was admitted to the hospital in November for gestational hypertension (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure). I was at such risk for pre-eclampsia — a kind of hypertension disorder that’s a leading cause of maternal and infant death — that my doctors determined I needed to deliver a few days after I was admitted. I was 35 weeks pregnant at the time.
Fred Brown is director of nursing psychiatry at Rush
By Fred Brown
Minor daily stressors can actually be good for us, keeping us on our toes, alert and even motivated. But as many of us know, stress can get away from us and feel out of control very quickly.
Excessive stress can have a negative effect on your health and lead to more severe issues such as anxiety, depression and even cardiac events.
Here are five ways you can celebrate national Stress Awareness Month and minimize stressors in your daily life:
Laugh and connect
We’ve all heard the phrase “laughter is the best medicine,” and you may have had the experience when a good belly laugh felt like you just took an emotional jog around the block. Many of us are together daily and have been together for years, knowing each other well. Connecting with each other on a daily basis is important. Take time each day to enjoy your relationships through laughing or having lunch together.
By Wendy Dewey
In April 2010, I was diagnosed with stage 3B rectal cancer. This diagnosis came as a big surprise to me as well as my doctors, family and friends. The recommendation for colorectal cancer screening begins starting at age 50. So when I started having symptoms for this disease at age 36, the possibility that it may be colorectal cancer, at first, was at the bottom of my list.
My symptoms started in December 2009. John and I had taken a road trip down to visit my family in Florida. While I was there, I noticed that I had become constipated. I associated this with being in a car for long periods of time and not eating well while traveling. This persisted on and off even after we came back from Florida.
Somewhere between January and February 2010, I started noticing some blood in my stool. Since nine out of 10 people who are diagnosed are over the age of 50, I thought it could be anything but colorectal cancer. This concerned me, but I was still having constipation, so I assumed I had possibly done some internal damage that was causing this occasional bleeding.
Rush University Medical Center is widely recognized as a leader in nursing excellence, and that leadership starts early.
The Illinois Nurses Foundation and the Illinois Healthcare Action Coalition recently chose eight nurses and nursing faculty members at Rush for the organization’s inaugural 40 Under 40 Emerging Nurse Leader Award winners. Only one other institution in Illinois had more than one nurse who received the award, which was given to honor leadership and commitment well beyond the nurses’ years.
Learn more about the nurses and the work they do:
Natalie Velazquez, RN, assistant unit director and operating room nurse, Rush University Medical Center.Velazquez started a chapter of the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses at Rush and has been president of the chapter for more than a year. She has a passion for volunteer work, initiating a winter coat and mittens drive for children in need. She also is quick to act: Velazquez recently took initiative in a code blue — an alert at a hospital when a patient is in need of resuscitation — and performed chest compressions on a patient.
Amber S. Kujath, PhD, RN, assistant professor, Adult Health and Gerontological Nursing, Rush University College of Nursing. Kujath has served as an officer in the local chapter of the National Association of Orthopaedics and is involved heavily in the Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board. She has also served as an item writer for the registered nurse certification exam and is on the recertification committee. Her work also includes time with the American Diabetes Association summer camp program for children with Type 1 diabetes.
Jennifer M. Grenier, MSN, RN-BC, director, Telemetry and Resource Team, Rush Oak Park Hospital. Grenier sees the empowerment of her staff of nurses as a direct way to advocate for higher levels of patient care. She has spearheaded many initiatives, including the creation of a daily report card for patients and families outlining the treatment plan and providing needed education. Most recently, Grenier has taken the lead on Rush Oak Park Hospital’s surplus project, which donates food not used at the hospital to a local food pantry.
Nicole Murphy, surgical intensive care unit nurse, Rush University Medical Center. After a long-time surgical intensive care unit nurse passed away due to cancer, Murphy’s work with the SICU Recognition and Morale Committee helped create the Nurses Helping Nurses Foundation to support nurses and their families in times of need. The foundation helps nurses financially, memorializes nurses who have died and supports those who have suffered losses.
Michelle Heyland, DNP, APN, nursing faculty member for Community, Systems and Mental Health Nursing, Rush University College of Nursing. Just one year after graduating as a nurse practitioner, Heyland assumed a leadership role at a progressive community mental health organization, Turning Point. There, she helped create a crisis center that supports individuals through difficult times while minimizing emergency department visits and psychiatric hospitalization. The model, called the Living Room, served 87 individuals during 228 visits during its first year. People were diverted from making emergency department trips on 213 occasions, representing a savings of approximately $550,000 to the state of Illinois.
Christine Tatom, MSN, RN, CCRN, intensive care unit, Rush Oak Park Hospital. Tatom has made her mark in the community with her volunteer work for the Village of Oak Park and Rush Oak Park Hospital, where she holds several committee leadership roles. She dedicates her time to the Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry and the village’s Emergency Response Team and Medical Response Corp. In addition, she spends time educating new nursing graduates.
Fawn A. Cothran, PhD, RN, assistant professor, Adult Health and Gerontological Nursing, Rush University College of Nursing. Cothran is working to help black caregivers for people with dementia. She is developing culturally tailored interventions to promote these caregivers’ physical and mental health, and in turn to improve quality of care for people with dementia.
Monique Reed, PhD, RN, assistant professor, Community Systems and Mental Health Nursing, Rush University College of Nursing. Reed’s research work focuses on identifying interventions to address the high rates of obesity in African-American daughters and mothers, as well as identifying best teaching strategies for nursing faculty to use in teaching students culturally competent care.
By Patty Piasecki, BSN, MS, RN
Three years ago, the managing partner at Midwest Orthopaedics asked me to be the captain of the Rush and Midwest Orthopaedics team for the Swim Across America Chicago Open Water Swim.
Midwest Orthopaedics is an ongoing sponsor of the event, which has raised funds for cancer research at Rush since 2012. I am very familiar with the swimming community — my daughter Morgan graduated from Michigan State University and swam there for four years, as well as four years at Downers Grove North High School. During that time, I was at almost all of Morgan’s swim events. What’s more, I am a nurse practitioner in orthopedic oncology, so there was a logical connection.
It made sense for me to be involved with the Swim Across America Chicago event, but I’ll admit that I barely swim in a pool, let alone in Lake Michigan. But, of course, I became Captain Patty.
Luckily for me, the swim is a noncompetitive race — no triathlon clawing or scratching — and the half-mile swim parallels the beach, which means the water is shallow and makes the race doable for all skill levels. For those more proficient swimmers, you can swim up to three miles. It is way easier than any chemotherapy treatment, any radiation treatment, or any surgical procedure and rehabilitation that my cancer patients have gone through. We even have former cancer patients on the team. Continue reading