May 5, 2017

Celebrating nurses, our trusted caregivers

National Nurses Week, May 6 to 12, is a time to honor, celebrate and thank America’s 4 million nurses — and Kaiser Permanente’s 54,000 nurses — for the countless ways they make us healthier in body, mind and spirit.

Equal parts clinical expert, patient advocate, safety specialist, educator and trusted partner in care. That’s the role of today’s nurse, in a striking difference from just a few decades ago when their role was simpler in scope.

As a nurse manager in the critical care unit at Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Medical Center in Oregon, Becky Campbell, RN, BSN, has worked with her team to develop new care protocols for patients with spinal cord injuries as well as those needing tracheotomies and massive transfusions. She also tends to the minds and spirits of her patients by arranging for resources such as equipment, safe transport — even pet therapy visits.

Rosemarie Polemi, RN, MSN, led the opening of Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s first ambulatory surgery center. Later, as director of nursing practice and emergency management for the region, she advocated for the creation of a Nursing Services Department. Polemi has championed projects such as an advanced practice model for wound care, walk-in immunizations, on-site breast biopsies and an emergency management command structure.

“Nurses make the medical experience a human experience,” said Patti Harvey, RN, MPH, senior vice president, National Hospital and Health Plan Quality, and executive director, Care Management Institute. “They interact with patients more than any other provider, allowing them to make the personal connection that’s so essential to compassionate care. And by drawing on the latest research and evidence-based practices, they play a vital role in improving their patients’ total health."

Campbell and Polemi are winners of this year’s Kaiser Permanente Extraordinary Nurse Award — an annual award designed to nationally recognize and honor its nurses who exemplify professionalism, compassion, teamwork, excellence, integrity and patient- and family-centric care in their practice. You can read their profiles, and those of eight other winners, at a special Kaiser Permanente  Nurses Week website.

‘Heart of health care’

People across the country will celebrate our nation's 4 million nurses from May 6 to 12, 2017, during national Nurses Week. The observance recognizes the many ways that nurses care for, treat and heal patients every day.

“Nurses are the heart of health care,” said Harvey. “At Kaiser Permanente, their contributions and leadership have helped shape the way we care for our members, patients and their families for more than 70 years.”


Care for the mind, body, and spirit

This year’s Nurses Week theme as designated by the American Nurses Association is “Nursing: The Balance of Mind, Body and Spirit.”

“This theme resonates with all of us in the health care industry, and especially here at Kaiser Permanente,” said Greg Adams, executive vice president and group president, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals, who began his career as an emergency room nurse.

“Not only does the theme describe the holistic care our nurses provide our 11.8 million members, but it mirrors our organization’s commitment to total health for mind, body and spirit,” Adams said. “So many of our nurses, in addition to providing compassionate, clinically excellent care, are spreading healthy habits that promote prevention and wellness in their workplaces and communities.”

Registered nurse Marja Lehua Apisaloma recently helped launch a 14-week health challenge in the Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Urology and Cardiology departments at the Kaiser Permanente Wailuku Clinic in Maui. She and 25 clinic co-workers started to work out together every day after work and, after the first two weeks, lost a combined 63 pounds.

Barbara Duffy, CNS, MSN, a registered nurse in the trauma program at Kaiser Permanente’s South Sacramento Medical Center, actively recruits her co-workers to participate in employee wellness exercise classes, 21-day plant-based diet challenges and even financial management workshops. She’s also inspired them to join her in walking every week to a community farmers market sponsored by Kaiser Permanente about a mile from their medical center.

“Staying well and healthy is so important in our profession,” said Duffy. “We need to remember to rejuvenate and replenish ourselves, so that we can better care for our patients and members.” Read about more Kaiser Permanente nurse wellness champions.

‘Trusted partners’

Kaiser Permanente is thrilled to join in this celebration of our trusted caregivers. More than 54,000 nurses serve the organization’s members across multiple settings and care specialties. Whether they’re working on the front line or as managers, executives, researchers and policy specialists, Kaiser Permanente nurses are enhancing care experiences and patient outcomes.

“Nurses are critical to the delivery of high-quality care,” said Michael Kanter, MD, executive vice president and chief quality officer of The Permanente Federation, the national organization for the more than 21,000 physicians who provide care to Kaiser Permanente members and patients.

“Our physicians rely on nurses as trusted partners in providing exceptional team-based care, using the latest technology, evidence and comprehensive systems while keeping the patient at the center of everything we do,” Kanter said.

This week, Kaiser Permanente deeply thanks its nurses — and nurses everywhere — for all they do to make us healthier and help us thrive.

Nurses Week at Kaiser Permanente