One of the struggles with Correctional Nursing is the risk of nurses getting burned out and losing their ability to empathize with our patients. The environment itself fosters this. It becomes imperative for nurses to be aware of it and to train them on how to exhibit empathy when caring for detainees. Since I started with ACH, I was told the stories of Wendy Chambers, who has been a nurse with us since May of 2004.
Wendy is perhaps the most empathic nurse I have ever encountered and because of this, she has become the gold standard for all new correctional nurses. Her secret is truly no secret. Wendy just cares for her patients and demonstrates it by saying, "Ahhhhh," whenever she interacts with them. One of the most impressive stories I was told about Wendy was the "blue lady story."
Wendy had a patient who was painted from head to toe with blue paint. This patient was off her medication and needed to be restrained. Wendy, who had dealt with her in the past and knew exactly what had occurred, was able to patiently talk to her and calm her down to the point she no longer needed the restraint chair. In an environment in which everyone is quick to request IM Haldol for patients who are not behaving within the norm, Wendy's skillset to deescalate such a difficult patient is beyond what I have ever witnessed, and her heart of empathy is just as impressive.
To date, I utilize Wendy's caring approach for all ACH new hires. Thank you, Wendy, for truly caring and for being a nurse who defines what the DAISY Award is all about.