Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rehydrating an 8-month old child in Haiti

Debbie Wimmer, ’83 M.S.N., CRNP, painstakingly rehydrates a listless eight month old child with an oral rehydration solution. Weaned too soon, the child was severely malnourished and dehydrated which can be deadly. This process went on over several days and the child finally seemed to become slightly more energetic.

Saving a 2-day old Haitian girl

Debbie Wimmer, ’83 M.S.N., CRNP, assistant clinical professor, and Geri O’Hare ’85 B.S.N., M.S.N., R.N., CRNP, both pediatric nurse practitioners, begin to examine a two-day old infant girl whose traumatized mother had not breastfed her at all. After treating the mother’s complaints of back pain and working with her to breastfeed, she finally would look at and feed her child. Two other babies in similar situations had died.

“Overflowing compassion” in Haiti

Comparing Port-au-Prince to Dresden, Debbie Wimmer, ’83 M.S.N., CRNP, described the devastation in Haiti as if it was bombed. “It was the most intense sensory experience I have ever had…the sights, the smells, the sounds,” she recalls.

Wimmer, assistant clinical professor at the College of Nursing and a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP), departed Philadelphia on Valentine’s Day weekend to travel to Haiti to volunteer for 10-days at Hospice St. Joseph (HSJ) which serves the Christ Roi community of Port-au-Prince. She was part of a group of nurses, PNPs, physicians and lay volunteers whose efforts were sponsored by Medicines for Humanity which has a long association with HSJ. Global health challenges are not new to Wimmer who has traveled around the world with Operation Smile to places such as China, Ethiopia and Cambodia and leads senior nursing students during global health and multicultural experiences on the Western Shoshone Native American reservation in Elko, NV and in the bateyes of the Dominican Republic.

Wimmer was connected to Haiti through fellow alumna and PNP Geri O’Hare ’85 B.S.N., M.S.N., R.N., CRNP who also accompanies the Villanova group to the Dominican Republic and completed a year of service in Haiti. She speaks the native Kreyol and is the Caribbean Program Director for the Global Health initiatives of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the vice chair of the Board of Directors for HSJ.

Sleeping in tents and working in a small, makeshift clinic, the PNPs offered primary care to area residents. Care involved “treating acute illness and traumas, infections and dehydration, severe malnutrition, caring for moms and newborns, treating and preventing parasites...,” recalls O’Hare. “It was and is the stripped down essence of nursing and medicine...the science and art of compassion pressed down and was intense,” she notes.

Wimmer says, “You take it one patient at a time and do what you can.” Many children had rashes and bug bites from living outside and nearly everyone had a cough related to respiratory infections and malnutrition. Everyone generally got one meal a day of rice and beans.

Wimmer brought supplies including a baby scale and measuring board to assist with identifying malnourished children in the community. Likening the situation to Ethiopia, the trends she noted in charting weight-for-height indicated many children were severely malnourished. They spent time rehydrating children who were weaned too early from breast milk with an oral electrolyte solution. The PNPs created an “ICU” (a chair on the sidewalk) for Wimmer’s first patient, an infant, several months old, dying of dehydration and malnutrition, until she could be admitted into a hospital. One child, a two year old girl, was so anorexic and lethargic that she did not know what to do with a peanut butter cracker that Wimmer gave her from her bag. The mother took it for later.

The PNPs traveled into the surrounding area to look for psychological support resources from other volunteer groups for their patients. Many had psychosomatic complaints such as stomach aches, insomnia and headaches. Wimmer counseled them about normal reactions to “an enormous trauma.” “They are stunned” she recalls. As difficult as it was, Wimmer says she was energized by the positive experience. Of being a nurse, she notes, “It’s great to have a gift, to be able to help.”

Today, Barbara Ott, PhD, RN, an associate professor in the College of Nursing who also travels the globe with Operation Smile, has left for Haiti for a 10-day volunteer tour with that organization. Much of what they are doing now focuses on debriding wounds of infected tissue and revising amputations because of an operative site that became infected or has dead tissue. Check back for updates on her story.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

March 10th- The Solar Suitcase-Improving Maternal Health in Northern Nigeria

Hear Dr. Laura Stachel on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 from 4:30-6pm in the Driscoll Hall Auditorium. This event is sponsored by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the College of Nursing.

Dr. Laura Stachel, a registered OB/GYN and adjunct professor at University of California, Berkeley,will present her work in bringing solar power to a maternal health clinic in Northern Nigeria. To aidin the reduction of maternal mortality, Dr. Stachel has developed a portable power system comprisinga solar panel, batteries and LED lights all packaged in a suitcase for ease of transportation.This system, the so-called “Solar Suitcase,” has allowed physicians to perform deliveries andoperations at night in places ranging from Nigeria to Uganda and, most recently, Haiti.

Dr. Stachel will discuss the factors that contribute to high rates of maternal death in NorthernNigeria, the conditions in the hospital and the need for improved infrastructure, and the impactof the Solar Suitcase technology in improving maternity care around the world.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

College of Nursing announces accreditation visit

Site visitors representing the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education will be on campus February 8-10 as part of the College of Nursing's 10 year reaccreditation process for its BSN and MSN programs. An extensive self study document; meetings with representatives of the extended campus community, administrators, faculty, students and clinical agency partners; and observation of classes and clinical practica are part of the process. The visiting team members are Dr. Mary Collins, Glover-Crask Professor of Nursing and DNP track coordinator, Wegmans School of Nursing, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY; Dr. Maureen Gallagher Leen, Professor, College of Nursing & Health, Madonna University, Livonia, MI; and Daniel O'Neal, MA,RN, Evidence-Based Practice Specialist, VA Hospital, Tampa, FL.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Safe and secure

“Nurses, no matter where they practice, should understand the methods used to assess the quality and safety of their practice”

With health care reform targeting quality healthcare coverage, it is expected that Medicare and Medicaid payment will be tied to patient outcomes. “Nursing is one of the most influential professions in the delivery of healthcare. The understanding of how to assess the quality of care and the effectiveness of patient safety measures is of utmost importance for nurses, now more than ever,” says Kathy D. Gray-Siracusa, Ph.D., R.N., M.B.A., NEA-BC, assistant professor, Villanova University College of Nursing, whose research advances the safety agenda. She designed the graduate level nursing course Quality Improvement and Patient Safety initially offered in fall 2009. It provides students with a comprehensive understanding of patient safety and its relationship to quality improvement concepts and department management. Emphasis is placed on leadership characteristics essential to creating and sustaining a culture of safety within the health care organization.

The 1999 release of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) seminal report To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System (,ignited an increase in the movement of hospitals reforming how they operate to increase patient safety. The report estimates that at least 44,000 and up to 98,000 people die in hospitals each year from preventable medical errors. The total financial cost of errors nationally may be as high as $29 billion per year. Creating a culture of safety is a critical issue for hospitals and other health care settings where improvements are being made in such areas as injury prevention, patient identification procedures and medication safety. They are learning from “sentinel events” – unexpected occurrences resulting in death or serious injury such as the loss of a limb—and correcting antecedent situations, thus preventing a future event.

“This course is required for all Graduate Nursing students in the Healthcare Administration Track and is strongly recommended as an elective for all others including nursing education, nurse practitioner and nurse anesthesia students,” Dr. Gray-Siracusa explains. It also attracts students from the business school. Students learn how the elements of quality management, risk management, as well as data management and general management skills , including process mapping, root cause analysis, and benchmarking, are integrated to produce an effective and efficient system to monitor and improve care. “Nurses, no matter where they practice, should understand the methods used to assess the quality and safety of their practice,” she affirms.

A Call for Abstracts-PNEG conference

37th Annual National Conference on
Professional Nursing Education and Development

Gateway to Innovation and Creativity in Nursing Education

October 21-24, 2010 · Baltimore Inner Harbor

Online abstract submission deadline March 10, 2010