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The Importance of Direct Patient Care

by Lux Joseph 1. August 2014
Nursing care differs all around the world. From the United States to Africa to China, a registered nurse may have different responsibilities, guidelines, and even patient care protocols. In the United States, hospitals are now starting to shift the nurse’s focus to where it should have been a long time ago: patient care. A variety of hospitals and medical centers look at patient care as medication administration, dropping off meals, filling out shift paperwork, looking for missing test results, and searching for supplies. But out of all of those tasks, do any of them focus 100% on the care of the patient? The answer is, no! For years nurses have been trained to focus on the operations of the hospital, but Commercial Medical Escorts knows that patient care is our top priority.
Research has found that the more dedicated time nurses spend  at the bedside of their patients, the less likely patients are to suffer falls, infections and medication errors, and the more likely they are to be satisfied with their care. Commercial Medical Escorts designed its program to be patient focused from the initial point of contact and throughout the entire transport. We believe that this concentrated focus on the patient improves their morale, reduces any anxiety about flying, and improves their overall transport experience. In the hospital setting, studies have shown that nurses may spend less than two hours of a 12-hour shift in direct patient care. Individuals want to be loved and cared for. For some patients, the hospital staff is their only human contact they experience on a daily basis if they don’t have family or friends visiting. It is important that this shift in patient care continue amongst hospitals worldwide.
It is critical for organizations to recognize the talents and abilities of their employees and contractors and use them to their advantage. Why is a nurse hunting down a battery for a piece of equipment in a hospital when their time could be better spent comforting and caring for a patient? Every organization has positions for individuals and there are tasks that relate to some positions better than others. For those working in hospitals, there are certified nurse assistants and other less highly skilled staffers that can be looking for that battery and the nurse can focus on patient care. At Commercial Medical Escorts, our nurses and physicians focus on patient care 100% of the time. When they get to the airport, porters push the wheelchair while the nurse assists the patient into the wheelchair, comforts them, and ensures their medical needs are cared for. By shifting tasks to the more appropriate personnel it reduces the number of inefficient processes.
Some hospitals have started to transition to a more patient focused atmosphere by having pharmacists deliver medications to patient floors, locating common patient supplies within the patient rooms, and even placing tablets and computers in the patient room so the nurse can fill out the patient medical chart while still interacting and being close to the patient; not behind the nurses station away from the patient. Some of these changes seem small, but the impact on patient care is huge. As nurses have more time to spend with the patient and their families, they are able to care for the patients more closely and educate them on follow-up care once they leave the hospital.
At CME, there are numerous times that our nurses arrive to hospitals and the nurse senses the patient is being “pushed out” of the facility. An aging population means sicker patients with more complex needs, yet hospital stays are much shorter than in the past. Patients are getting discharged sooner than usual and their follow-up care is more complicated. Nurses focused on patient care are what are important to the healthcare industry, the hospital, and more importantly the patient. Nurses want to be doing what they entered the profession for, not doing inefficient things that any individual could do.
Patricia Rutherford, a nurse and vice president at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement says “We shouldn’t’ be using expensive professional nursing time doing unnecessary and inefficient things when that time could be reinvested in direct patient care.” Increased direct patient care allows the nurses to be an advocate for the patient. The nurses and patients are able to establish and create a bond that has a positive impact on the patient. At CME we believe patient care is the number one priority. Patients should be able to feel comfortable communicating their needs and concerns. Every patient CME transfers, the nurse visits the patient prior to the transport to complete a full assessment, get to know the patient, and create that connection that will ensure 100% positive patient care. 

Meet Penelope

by Lux Joseph 7. June 2014

Commercial Medical Escorts is fortunate to have one of best nurses based here locally in South Florida. This clinician comes to CME with a wide range of experience and knowledge about nursing and medical escorts. Our Director of Operations says, “Penni is one of kind. She is committed to providing compassionate, quality care with each and every patient she transports back home. The feedback we receive from patients and clients is always positive and uplifting.” Today you can learn more about Penelope.

 What is your most enjoyable part of this job?

The most enjoyable part of this job is being able to travel, meet a variety of clients and still be a nurse and take care of a client who needs my skills and experience.

 Where did you gain your experience and knowledge in the field of nursing? What area's of expertise do you have experience in?

I have been a nurse for 30 years. During those thirty years most of my time was in an Emergency room and Trauma Center. I am originally from Maryland and obtained my nursing license there. I have also done Recovery Room, Pediatrics, Orthopedics and Forensic Investigating for the State of Maryland. My husband and I moved to Florida in 1998.

 When you are not flying what do you do?

When I am not flying, I work full time at St. Mary's Hospital in the Trauma Resus Unit. And when I'm not there, I do love to go out and play golf with friends.

 What has been your most interesting transport? Why is that? 

My most interesting transport was bringing a client back from Rome. I was lucky in the fact that I had a few hours and got to see a few of the historic areas of Rome. My client and his companion were a great help in giving me directions to get around on the train system. On the flight back, I was able to assist another passenger on Air Italia. The flight crew had paged for any medical personnel for assistance. They knew I was there but they didn't want to bother me. I let them know that I was willing to help. As I watched "3 Doctors" take care of this passenger, I went and offered my assistance, as it was obvious to me that they were having some problems. They were most grateful that I came and gave them some help. The passenger did fine in the end. However, it turns out that the 3 Doctors were dentists en route to a convention in Ft. Lauderdale!! The moral being, find out what kind of Dr. is answering the call!

 What would you tell future clients of CME?

If you, as a future client, need additional help either with medical needs or companion needs, CME uses only well-qualified and experienced medical personnel. We love what we do!!

Travel Tips for Elderly and those Requiring Special Assistance

by Lux Joseph 25. April 2014

Traveling for most people is one of the most rewarding experiences, whether it is visiting family and friends or exploring the world.  However, it is important to know that when traveling with individuals who are elderly or may have a particular disability there are some things that need to be considered. If you are not familiar with the resources and guidance available, you may face challenges that you didn’t anticipate. The tips we are about to share with you are important things to remember and will alleviate a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety.

1.     Consult with the passenger’s primary care physician for travel approval and recommendations

One of the first steps you can do before travel is to make sure the passenger is cleared for travel by his or her primary care physician. A 22 year old healthy individual does not need to do this, but many individuals who are elderly or may have a disability should speak with their physician especially if the passenger is accommodating a current health condition such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, COPD, etc. You will want to make sure to ask the doctor about any necessary vaccinations or additional medication that may be needed for travel.

2.     Choosing the flight

If you go to Expedia, Orbitz, or Travelocity and plug in your destination hundreds of potential flights will come up. When traveling with the elderly and those individuals with disabilities you should choose the most direct flights possible. If there are no direct flights to the destination, keep in mind that you will need additional time for connections. Our rule of thumb is at least one (1) hour to two (2) hour connection time for domestic flights. Passengers traveling in a wheelchair may be the first to board the airplane, but typically they are the last to get off. Having a tight connection will add additional unnecessary stress to the traveler.

3.     Arranging special services 

Once the flights have been selected, contact your travel agent to add special services that you may need. If you booked your tickets on a travel website or directly with the airline, you can contact the airline directly. Each airline typically has a special number dedicated for passengers that require special assistance. If not, you can always request these requirements through the main reservation number. There are three different types of wheelchair requests. It is important that you let the agent know the

Wheel-chair for Ramp (WCHR) offers passenger who can ascend/descend steps and make own way to/from cabin seat, but requires wheelchair for distance to/from aircraft across ramp.

Wheelchair for Steps (WCHS) offers passengers who cannot ascend/descend steps, but is able to make own way to/from cabin seat, requires wheelchair for distance to/from aircraft and must be carried up/down steps.

Wheelchair for Cabin (WCHC) offers to passenger who is completely immobile. He requires wheelchair to/from aircraft and must be carried up/down steps and to/from cabin seat. (This device is accompanied to individual aircraft).

Today a lot of airlines have “paid seats” that include seats with extra leg room. After calling the special assistance desk, kindly ask them to assign seats for the passenger. Usually they will also accommodate one guest of the passenger with disability free of charge. Don’t pay for the seats until after you call the special service desk.

4.     Purchase travel insurance 

In an upcoming blog we will go into detail on the importance of purchasing travel insurance. All travelers should have travel insurance if they are traveling anywhere throughout the United States and worldwide. Make sure that the policy you get includes medical evacuation and medical services. A medical escort can cost up to $50,000 depending on where the patient is. An air ambulance will be even more expensive. This is not an expense you want to be paying out of pocket. Contact your travel agent to find the best policy for you. Many individuals think that nothing will happen to them, but if something does it is critical that you have insurance. Commercial Medical Escorts is a member of the US Travel Insurance Association. We encourage you to visit this link for FAQs on travel insurance:

5.      Useful tips for discomfort on the plane

Takeoff and landing of airplanes can sometimes cause uncomfortable sinus and ear pressure. It may also cause nausea. This can be problematic for elders with sinus problems, allergies or even a bad cold. Things like eating chewing gum, candy or a decongestant can help.

Dehydration can also be a concern when flying and can pose problems for seniors, especially those suffering from diabetes. Make sure that your elderly travelers drink plenty of fluids, especially water during the flight.

6.     Pack essential items in a carry-on back that is easily accessible.  

Pack any essential items in a light carry on that is easily accessible. Important things that you should include is medications, important documents and phone numbers, a travel pillow, boarding passes, your photo identification, a light sweater, and a few snacks. This should be in an easily accessible bag that is readily available instead of a roller suitcase.

7.     Choose the right type of transportation 

Keep in mind that every destination has a variety of transportation options for passengers with disabilities. You want to make sure the passenger is comfortable and so a taxi may not always be most appropriate. For example, a passenger may be able to get in/out of a taxi in New York City, but the traffic and how they drive could provide an uncomfortable ride for the passenger. There are wheelchair vans, town cars, limos, and SUVs in most locations. Limos are usually a good choice if the passenger may need to have a leg extended or elevated.

8.     Preventing DVT 

Sitting still for extended periods of time is a known risk factors for the development of blood clots in the veins of the legs. This condition is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Some researchers believe that long-haul flights can be a risk factor in susceptible people.

Suggestions on how to reduce the small risk of DVT while flying include:

·         Consult with your doctor before flying. They may recommend that you take half an aspirin (150mg) on the day of the flight, and you may be advised to use elasticised stockings for the flight. Sometimes a self-administered injection of heparin is required.

·         Wear loose clothing.

·         Don't smoke.

·         Avoid alcoholic drinks and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

·         Take strolls up and down the aisles when possible.

·         Avoid sitting with your legs crossed.

·         Perform leg and foot stretches and exercises while seated.

9.     Use A Travel Agent 

Booking your ticket on Expedia or Orbitz may seem easy and just a couple clicks away, but when something goes wrong with your flight, the fast efficient service comes to a halt. You may be forced to stand in long lines to rebook your travel and the agent on the phone or at the counter may not know all of your needs. Using a travel agent for elderly and those with special needs is very important. It gives the passenger a direct contact with someone who is knowledgeable about the passenger’s special needs. If a flight is canceled, they will look for the next best option for the passenger keeping in mind special requirements.

10.  Understand your rights and what is required at TSA 

Most travelers who are elderly or require special assistance can request a wheelchair at check-in. Even if they are traveling with another adult most likely they will be pushed through the airport by a “porter”. In a recent incident an elderly gentlemen was being taken through TSA at Fort Lauderdale Airport and the porter had him taking off his shoes and jacket. It is important for you to know what rules and policies are in place to assist the elderly. TSA has modified their screening procedures so that passengers 75 and older can:

·         Leave on shoes and light jackets through security checkpoints.

·         Undergo an additional pass through Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) to clear any anomalies detected during screening.

TSA also has a help line to assist those travelers in need. Travelers may call TSA Cares toll free at 1-855-787-2227 prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.

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