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Nurse leads creative effort to support patient and staff


May 5, 2022 | Everyday Moments

Surgeons show a photo to a patient in a hospital bed

Patient with brain trauma receives special consideration to ensure dignity and respect.

Erin Suda, RN, is known for her strong advocacy—not only for those she works with, but especially for the patients she cares for.

In a particularly challenging situation, Erin’s determination to ensure dignity and respect for her patients and work team was put to the test.

A patient in the busy medical unit at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, Washington was proving to be rather difficult to handle.

Before being diagnosed with both Alzheimer's and traumatic brain injury, the patient had been a gentle and caring person.

Now trapped inside his own mind, it was common for his caregivers to see him lash out in frustration, sometimes causing injury to himself and to others.

Knowing the intensity of the circumstances, Erin partnered with Susan Stamnes, the nurse team lead, to explore multi-disciplinary solutions that would safeguard her colleagues and the patient.

With help from other caregivers, the pair identified several workable measures including a 2:1 staff assignment, a consult on ethics and palliative care, the services of a psychiatrist, regular rounding by the hospital security team and support from the facilities’ crew to make adjustments in the patient’s room.

There was also close communication with the patient’s family, including weekly care conferences during his extended hospital stay—the goal being to ensure the patient was comfortable, able to rest and be at peace with his family at his bedside.

While the entire team came together on the patient’s behalf Erin’s staunch passion was a key factor in finding workable solutions.