Healthcare

Let’s Hear It For Nurses!

“Take some time this May to thank those nurses you know in your life.”

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Our media outlet has written previously on South Carolina’s looming nursing shortage – and efforts by local hospitals, including Lexington Medical Center, to address it.

This summer, Lexington Medical Center will open a new, state-of-the-art 52,000-foot facility on its West Columbia, S.C. campus in partnership with the University of South Carolina’s nursing school. The addition of this new facility – which welcomes its first incoming class this year – means USC will be able to graduate 400 nurses per year in the Midlands, an 80 percent annual increase.

The timing of this partnership – which nursing school dean Jeannette Andrews has referred to as “transformative” – could not have come at a more critical time. According to a January 2023 report (.pdf) from the S.C. Office for Healthcare Workforce (SCOHW), the Palmetto State is projected to have the “tenth largest nursing shortage in the United States by 2035.”

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This week is National Nurses’ Week in the United States, a time when we take a moment to acknowledge the absolutely vital role these front-line healthcare workers play in all of our lives.

“Nurses serve in that simple heroic capacity hour upon hour, day after day, in hospitals throughout America and it is for a week in May that we nationally celebrate their selfless service, their gentle kindness, their backbreaking work, and their strength in the face of tragedy and triumph every day,” Erin Phillips wrote for the Erie Reader earlier this week.

“Take some time this May to thank those nurses you know in your life,” Phillips added. “Their job is often thankless and ‘National Nurses Week’ affords us all the chance to change that.”

Melissa Taylor is vice president and chief nursing officer at Lexington Medical Center. I reached out to her for some perspective on the most pressing challenges currently facing nurses – beyond the immediate nationwide shortages.

“As a profession, we have to continue finding ways to make nursing a satisfying, long-term career,” Taylor said. “This includes providing a healthy work/ life balance for nurses, which can be challenging for organizations that provide 24/7 care. Hospitals are evaluating creative scheduling plans and even virtual options to retain nurses in the profession longer.”

“Another challenge is keeping nurses at the bedside caring for patients,” Taylor told me. “They’re also responsible for much of the documentation required by insurance companies and regulatory agencies so we’re focused on ways to balance that aspect of their job with delivering patient care. Fortunately, we have a lot of new graduates but it’s vital to retain experienced nurses to mentor them so we can continue providing high quality care.”

Beyond the public recognition associated with National Nurses’ Week, I asked Taylor how we as a society could truly show our gratitude for all of the hard work nurses do under incredibly taxing circumstances – and more importantly, how we could actively support them in those efforts. Her answer was interesting – and insightful.

“It’s important for all of us to get routine preventative care so we’re as healthy as possible,” she said. “If you do have an illness or injury that requires immediate care, it’s important to understand what conditions can be treated in an urgent care instead of an emergency room. This helps patients get timely care and allows nurses and other health care providers to spend more time with patients, which means better outcomes.”

So don’t forget your checkups, people.

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RELATED | LEXINGTON MEDICAL CENTER EXPANDS REACH

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As South Carolina continues its efforts to address the nursing shortage, it’s also worth remembering this is a year-round battle.

“While we extend our gratitude to our local nurses during National Nurses Week, it’s important that we also recognize that their work continues far beyond the bounds of this week, and that we in turn continue to extend our gratitude and support to them all year,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, director of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).

Indeed … let’s hear it for nurses!  This week … and every week. And let’s do our part to lessen the severity of the shortage by taking better care of ourselves and each other – especially as it relates to scheduling routine preventative care. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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1 comment

Ontos Top fan May 11, 2024 at 9:37 am

Nurses are great! That’s why I married one almost 54 years ago!

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