The neuroscience unit at Community Hospital East, Community Hospital North and Community Hospital South are certified Primary Stroke Centers by the Joint Commission. The CHN unit, located at 5 North Tower, houses 12-16 beds. The nurse to patient ratio is one nurse for every three to four patients depending on number of beds filled. Shifts include 8- or 12-hours and 12-hour CLO positions as follows: eight-hour shifts every other weekend; 12-hour shifts every third weekend; CLO every weekend. Types of nurses you may encounter in this unit include R.N., LPN, patient support person (PSP), II/SE (student extern) and neuroscience clinical nurse specialist (CNS).
Successful nurses in this area love nursing and neuroscience. They are caring and compassionate, and they possess the knowledge and technical skills needed to care for the complex neuroscience patient and neuroscience-related diseases. They are detail-oriented, willing to work extra shifts if needed, and able to relate well to the physicians who depend on them to monitor patient care, recognizing the sometimes subtle changes in a patient’s condition.
Dedication and teamwork are also important. Staff note that "our nurses are committed to our neuroscience patients. They have received specialized training in the care of our neuroscience population. More importantly, they enjoy their work, and look forward to coming in for their assigned shifts. Average seniority is 20-25 years. We consider ourselves a very special family, always willing to help each other in time of need."
Daily nursing activities in the neuroscience area include basic bedside nursing, stroke care, care of back surgery patients and video EEG monitoring. Patients in the unit range from young adult to seniors and may have conditions/diagnoses such as stroke, seizures, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, migraine headaches, back surgery and Parkinson’s disease.
Neuroscience nurses at Community have the opportunity to gain specialized knowledge in stroke care, e.g., utilize the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), a tool for assessing stroke patients' neurological deficit. Neuroscience nurses may also pursue a neuroscience nursing certification (CNRN); scholarships may be available through the Community Health Network Foundation.
Exceptional patient experience
Deborah C. Smith, R.N., MSN, CNRN, recalls an exceptional patient experience that hit close to home: "A couple of years ago, one of our RN’s was stricken with cancer. Her last days were spent on our unit, and she was worried about what would happen to her cat and dog. Her family was unable to care for the animals. It looked like they would have to be taken to the Humane Society. Our nurses took charge and personally adopted her cat and dog so they would not be abandoned!"