Vol. 5 Issue 5
Leader & Mentor
Laura Hatch has influenced the lives of many patients, nurses at Mary Washington Hospital
After 30-plus years in the same nursing specialty, you would think Laura Hatch, LPN, might want to consider a new field.
Not so, says Hatch, a nurse in the antepartum unit at Mary Washington Hospital, Fredericksburg, VA. In fact, she can't think of an area of care that offers so many daily challenges and rewards.
"Every time you see a baby born it's a miracle," she explained. "This is a very happy environment to work in and I never lose my excitement for this job. In this area of care, you're with the patient for several weeks and you work together to reach the most important goal of all delivering a healthy baby."
Hatch has helped countless mothers meet that goal during her nursing career, and her experience and influence has had a positive effect on her co-workers and the antepartum unit as a whole. In the past year, she helped design the new unit's charting system to improve patient documentation. She also became one of the first LPNs in the hospital to be awarded a clinical advancement pathway ranking for LPNs one of the top rungs of the facility's career ladder. If that weren't enough, Hatch is now helping develop a plan of care for labor and delivery patients.
Her great work ethic and leadership skills were the main reasons our judges selected Hatch as advance's 2005 LPN of the Year. She joins the ranks of a select group which includes friend and colleague, Edna Kaye Donald, LPN, another OB nurse at Mary Washington Hospital, who won the 2002 LPN of the Year award
"It's really an honor to win the award, especially to be the second nurse from this facility to win," Hatch said. "I think it really shows how great a team we have here and how hard LPNs work on the unit."
More than 30 LPNs were nominated for this year's contest. In a close decision that came down to a few points, Hatch bested two other quality nurses, Susan Gottlob, LPN, of Doylestown (PA) Hospital and Cleva Carr, LPN, of Louise Obici Memorial Hospital, Suffolk, VA (see page 16).
But it was Hatch's prominent standing on her unit that impressed our judges. Aside from all of her achievements, Hatch is a member of the unit-based clinical practice council, which is charged with revising standards of care.
Most impressive, though, is her work with patients, who respond well to her calm demeanor and quality nursing skills.
"Much of my job is providing a lot of patient care, educational and emotional support for my patients," said Hatch. "A lot of patients here are on bed rest for conditions such as premature labor, premature ruptured membrane, diabetes, hypertension. Most stay here for 4 weeks and they need a lot of TLC."
Keeping family involved is also a key part of her job, Hatch added.
"A lot of these mothers have other children, so they're concerned about their families at home," she said. "And because the family is concerned about mom, it's important to make sure they know what's going on. So we reiterate what the doctors tell them and give them patient handouts. Depending on the patient's needs, we collaborate with care management resources to provide resources for childcare or any other community services."
Hatch's nominators Marty Jenner, MSN, RN, Dixie Bettis, RNC, and Emma Nichols, LPN, explained how Hatch uses that same supportive approach in working with staff members.
"Laura takes pride not only in her many accomplishments as an LPN, but also in the accomplishments of her colleagues," they wrote. "Laura is a valuable member of our team who has the respect and appreciation of all those who work with her."
"Whenever we have a new LPN on board to learn antepartum care, Laura orients them," added Jenner, nurse manager of the labor and delivery antepartum unit. "She also plays a big role in working with practical nursing students who do their clinicals here. Thirty years of experience extends Laura the ability to help new nurses coming on board and make their lives a little easier when they go into direct patient care."
"I helped train a lot of the nurses here," Hatch said. "When they first come here they often have questions and I help them learn the routine. It's rewarding to see them grow and become quality nurses."
All in the Details
Of all the attributes Hatch passes on to the nursing staff, her greatest legacy is her diligence in patient care, Bettis explained.
"Laura is a great advocate for her patients' health and needs," she said. "When Laura addresses a need with a physician or anyone else on staff, we listen. Laura was the driving force in working with our system analyst to further develop our charting system. The new system reflects her attention to detail, so whether Laura is here or not on a particular day, that same level of care will be delivered."
Hatch also regularly provides relief to short-staffed units.
"If she's needed somewhere else, Laura is very willing to go," Jenner said. "Nurses are not always comfortable with floating into another unit, but Laura is very skilled at it."
For the Patients
Hatch's nominators say the greatest indicator of her excellence is the patient feedback she receives.
"Laura receives positive comments from patients and their families due to the caliber of nursing care she provides," they wrote. "She takes pride in her patient care, assuring that her patients' needs are met on an ongoing basis."
Hatch, in turn, credits her patients with helping her become a better nurse.
"I've learned so much from them," she said. "I recall one younger patient in particular who was diabetic, preterm and didn't have a lot of resources. So we did the best we could to get her all the help that was available. She delivered a healthy baby at 34 weeks. It was pretty remarkable how she endured all of those challenges."
And though Hatch has helped so many mothers deliver healthy babies, she admits her job is sometimes emotionally challenging, especially when a child dies.
"Every person copes with loss differently, so you have to really deal with it on an individual basis," she said. "You need to read your patient and their families and help them cope with the grief. It often comes down to support. Sometimes it's just holding the patient's hand."
When such situations occur, Hatch feels the LPN's role is especially important.
"I really enjoy being an LPN," she said. "There will always be a role for bedside nurses; we make such a difference in our patient's lives. I'm really proud to be an LPN."
Tom Kerr is ADVANCE editor.
Runners up are worthy contenders
It was quite a challenge for judges to select this year's LPN of the Year, especially with nurses like Susan Gottlob and Cleva Carr in the running. Meet this year's runners up and how they make a difference in the lives of their patients and co-workers.
EXCELLENCE IN THE ED
The ED's fast pace requires staff who are dependable, efficient and creative. Susan Gottlob, LPN, fulfills all those requirements, says AnnMarie Papa, MSN, RN, CEN.
"Sue Gottlob's name is synonymous with excellence," gushed Papa, Gottlob's nominator. "She develops creative solutions to problems, generates fresh ideas and promotes a creative work climate."
When faced with a changing role in the ED, Gottlob, who has more than 25 years experience in ED nursing, envisioned a new and more important role for herself, Papa explained.
"We struggled with supply and equipment issues, as most of our needs require special orders," Papa recalled. "This may seem insignificant, but in the heat of the moment in a busy ED, this directly affects patient outcomes and staff satisfaction. Sue recognized this frustration, met with key members of our department and developed a new job description that encompasses all of her talents for the good of our department and our patients."
Aside from her clinical duties as an LPN, Gottlob is involved in inventory control, equipment maintenance and budget accountability. She works with staff to ensure the ED has needed supplies that are in good working order, Papa said.
Her achievements helped Gottlob secure a place on hospital and developmental committees. She is also participating in the planning phases of Doylestown's new ED.
"Sue is a vital member of the planning team and provides information that enables us to ensure that the environment will be conducive to patient care, as well as meet staff expectations," Papa said.
Problem-solving abilities are Gottlob's biggest strength, Papa explained. This includes working with plant operations to fix a new ED cart problem and also initiating a cost-saving measure that translated in hospital-wide savings. Her knowledge of JCAHO and state regulations also makes Gottlob a valuable contributor in helping the unit prepare for these evaluations, Papa added, and she polishes her specialty skills by maintaining a membership with the Emergency Nurses Association and certification in BCLS and ACLS.
All of these efforts, Papa said, are geared to providing better patient care.
"One just needs to be in the room with Sue and experience her interaction with patients and other team members to recognize they are in the presence of greatness," concluded Papa. "Her ability to recognize opportunities for improvement is astounding."
Cleva Carr, LPN, is not one to discuss her accomplishments at Louise Obici Memorial Hospital, Suffolk, VA, but reminders of her good deeds can be found throughout the facility.
These accolades aren't in the form of awards hanging on walls of the hospital. Instead, Carr's impact is evident in the success of her co-workers and patients.
Just ask the facility's director of quality assurance and risk management how Carr impacted her decision to become a nurse when she began her healthcare career as a teenage candy striper at Obici Memorial. Better yet, tour the unit where Carr helped stem a nursing shortage by encouraging new recruits to join the staff.
These are just some of the achievements of this valuable LPN, explained nominator Marianne Walston, MS, RN.
"Cleva consistently puts the needs of the unit as a priority," said Walston. "She always maintains positive working relationships with her co-workers, the physician staff and ancillary departments."
Walston recalled a time when the unit Carr worked on merged with another in an overall hospital reorganization. The merge was difficult, but Carr helped maintain an optimistic view and eased the transition between team members.
As a preceptor, Carr serves as a role model and mentor to many nurses at Obici Memorial, Walston said.
"She has not only trained new LPNs, but also assisted with volunteers, nursing assistants, nurse techs and RNs," she said. "Continuing education is important to Cleva. She eagerly attends outside workshops, signs up for inservices and keeps current with journals such as ADVANCE for LPNs. She brings this information back to her co-workers."
Walston added that Carr recently mastered the facility's new computerized documentation system. "Cleva is working hard to introduce her co-workers to the system so we can have less charting time and more patient care time."
And that's the true motivator behind Carr's work ethic, said Walston.
"Cleva always puts the patients first," she said. "She has even been known to discuss ideas or patient needs with the CEO while he is out making rounds."
Meet the Judges
Dorothy Krause, LPN
Nurse, VA Medical Health Care System, Baltimore
The recipient of the 2004 ADVANCE LPN of the Year award, Krause has vast experience in urology and emergency nursing. She has served on the VA's nurse standards board for LPNs, which reviews the goals that LPNs should meet in order to obtain promotions at the facility. She was the first staff member to ever be named her department's employee of the month and served on an interdisciplinary health mission to Honduras.
Theresa Parker, LPN
President, Northeastern Pennsylvania League of LPNs (NPLLPN)
Parker, president of NPLLPN, is "committed to mentoring PN students and acknowledging the importance of LPNs in the health field." She serves on the NAPNES board and is a member of the Federation for Accessible Nursing Education and Licensure. She is also an advisor for the PN program at the Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County, Scranton, PA. She currently works as a hospice nurse treating patients in their homes and in facilities through Asera Care Hospice.
Barbara Tyler, LPN
Nurse, VCU Medical Center, Richmond, VA
Tyler, senior advisor to the LPN Advisory Council at VCU, has 32 years nursing experience at the medical center. A three-time winner of the facility's LPN Excellence In Practice Award (1995, 2002, 2003), Tyler was also selected as one of 10 African American Heroes for 2005 by VCU Health System during Black History Month for her facilitating role in "Mothers Supporting Mothers Through Grieving," a local support group. A member of the Virginia LPN Association since 1995, Tyler joined NFLPN in 2002.