Erin Kennedy, a nurse in Westerly Hospital’s medical-care unit, was recently recognized for her exemplary performance and dedication to health care at the annual “Celebration of Excellence in Hospital Care” ceremony held by the Hospital Association of Rhode Island at the Crowne Plaza Providence-Warwick.
Responsible for providing patient-centered care to the acutely ill, Kennedy also serves as a liaison of the Skin Wound Action Team, updating floor staff with new changes in preventing, treating and documenting pressure ulcers and wounds.
Kennedy, who earned a B.S in nursing from Salve Regina University, discusses the nursing field and how businesses can participate in the health of their employees.
PBN: What, in your opinion, are the most pressing issues facing your profession today?
KENNEDY: Nurses are facing [increasing pressure] to improve patient satisfaction. Data from patient experience surveys determine[s] how much reimbursement hospitals will receive for their Medicare patients. As the person who usually spends the most time with the patient, the nurse has a pivotal role in enhancing a patient’s hospital experience. It is important that nurses understand how the patient’s experience is being incentivized and that they are aware of what areas of their unit need improvement.
Another pressing issue is that as the health care industry evolves, nurses do not have a large enough role in the reform process. Nurses can provide valuable input when administration is looking to cut costs while maintaining quality care. The unique perspective of the bedside nurse is undervalued and underutilized. That being said, nurses need to remain proactive and stay involved. When we are asked for input or invited onto a committee we need to take it seriously, recognizing it as an opportunity to improve our workplace and overall patient care.
PBN: Do you think businesses have a stake in the health of their employees?
KENNEDY: Businesses absolutely have a stake in the health of their employees. How effective is an employee when they’re sick at home or being hospitalized? Everybody wants to reduce costs, but health insurance is not the place to do it. Although lower-end plans may be cheaper upfront, the cost of paying for sick time and replacement employees may prove to be far more costly. A comprehensive insurance plan is highly valued by an employee because it allows [them] to remain healthy and empowered.
PBN: Are there any employee health programs you think can be adopted by employers to reduce long-term health issues and expenses?
KENNEDY: Investing in an insurance plan that appropriately meets the needs of employees will reduce long-term health issues and expenses. When deciding on a health care plan, access to primary care is essential. This is the best way to prevent long-term health complications. In the short-term, employers can adopt tobacco-free policies and reimburse employees for gym memberships to help promote healthier lifestyle choices. •
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