I have been a nurse for 13 years, so I have seen how hospitals run their nurses to the ground with extra duties and unsupportive leadership, making them feel like they have made a mistake by going into the nursing profession. I am writing to say I finally worked at a hospital, unlike another at Allen Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa, with UnityPoint Health - Waterloo. Allen gave me hope that the nursing profession can be revived if other leaders are willing to learn from this leadership and implement their policies.
First and foremost, Iowa has one of the lowest nursing pays in the nation, and even though the pay is meager, the staff are happy and choose to stay! This says a lot, and I contribute this observation to the fact that the team feels that their leadership cares about who they are, patient safety, nurses' license, and patient satisfaction. At Allen hospital, the nurses are given a chance to focus primarily on providing medical care, often overshadowed by multitasks that pull every nurse away from the bedside.
When I first arrived at Allen as a traveling nurse eight months ago, I quickly found out how amazing they work together as a team.
For example, the following Interdisciplinary departments make this hospital exceptional in my eyes! For instance, I have never drawn my labs, including "adds on." Unless a patient has a central line, I save them a needle stick. Allen's Phlebotomist rounds on the units throughout the day and never misses patients' orders; Nurse Case Managers and Social Workers provide patients and their family members updates on their plan of care and give them resources to make sure they understand their options in their treatment plan before patients ask me these questions. Providers look for the primary nurse during rounding, and they make everyone feel inclusive as part of the team in formulating patient care. 99% of the providers are text messages away, responding within seconds. WHERE DO THEY DO THAT AT?!
Allen's transportation team is out of this world! They are often the first to see that patients need to be at a procedure and all a nurse has to do is say "yes," the patient is available for transport, walah, pt is gone!. I never worked at a hospital with a dedicated IV pump team that is only Voicera Call away. At Allen, I called the IV pump team, who delivered the pump to my patient's room within minutes. They have an Infusion team (Hi Jen & Erin) to insert your most difficult IVs and change all central lines dressing when due. They track this independently and round on the units; wow, unique, ah?! I will not forget to mention their Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Pathology team. They walk the patients to the bathroom, feed them, and bathe them if needed; LORD JESUS, bless them!
We are not done! Check out Allen's Pharmacy Department and their staff; they are extraordinary! I cannot say enough about how respectful and professional they are. The "normal" silence bigotry between pharmacy and nursing staff is nonexistent at Allen. They managed most medications, including Vancomycin doses and the Insulin sliding scale, with a simple phone call from the nurse when blood sugar was out of the range. They will call the nurse if the levels are unfavorable before administering the next dose of medicine. BLESS THE LORD THAT PUT THIS PHARMACY TEAM TOGETHER!
Out of all these team members and staff, one group of individuals who continues to win my heart every day is the Patient Care Technician. This group of professionals is the foundation of my success at Allen! I highly recommend that these incredible young women and men go around the nation to teach and provide orientation to all the PCT/CNA because they are the GOAT and know what they are doing! There was never a day I walked into my patient's room, and my whiteboard was not updated; I&O was always up today, and patient food trays were ordered, delivered, collected, charted, patients bath, walked, and bed linen changed! All patients' call lights are answered promptly with a smile and pride. I can write a whole article on the PCT at Allen hospital. I hope they truly know how much the nursing staff appreciates them for always displaying professionalism to patients and their families.
As my contract came to an end at Allen, I felt like I had left part of my heart in Iowa with all my nursing colleagues and managers. God willing, we will meet again because I never envisioned myself participating in another code with anyone else but NURSES at Allen Hospital. They have all changed the game for me. Unlike anything I have witnessed before, I love and respect their teamwork. They had never made me feel alone during admission or when my patient's condition took a wrong turn. There were always multiple hands assisting one another!
Although I can't academically say, the reason Allen runs smoothly is the fact that the CEO and most administrators are Nurses. Still, I believe with 100% that they have a secret that the rest of the Healthcare Organizations in America need to seek. The Future of the Nursing Profession Depends on Leadership that puts its people first, like Allen Hospital.