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The game changer: C.A.R.E. Lifetime Achievement winner rewrote the rules of nursing

BY DSN STAFF

ORLANDO, Fla. —Loretta Ford didn’t start out in this business to be a pioneer. She was just trying to connect the dots between people and health care. But, today, more than 40 years since she helped co-found the country’s first nurse practitioner program, her experience in public health, remarkable foresight and unwavering dedication to nursing has played an undeniable role in the evolution of retail clinics.

It also made Ford a no-brainer to receive the first-ever Retail Clinician C.A.R.E. Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as deliver the keynote presentation. It is difficult to imagine what convenient care would be if it were not for Ford’s considerable vision and significant achievements.

Ford’s professional journey began in 1942, the year she received a degree in nursing from Middlesex General Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J, and included a World War II officer’s commission in the Army’s Air Corps. But her real mission began to crystallize for her in the early ’60s, at the University of Colorado. After earning her master’s degree, and a doctorate in education in 1961, Ford went to work for the state. During these years in Colorado’s public health sector, she first started to notice the huge gaps in American health care—more than 40 years ago.

“There weren’t any physicians out in some of the communities,” Ford recounted in an interview with Retail Clinician magazine. “I started [developing the model] because, from practice, I knew very well what was needed and what we should be preparing nurses for.”

Back at the University of Colorado in the early ’60s, Ford began work on a public health model for nursing that would significantly broaden the scope of practice for nurses—based on what she knew could work, but more, based on what she knew America needed.

To be sure, Ford met a mountain of resistance along the way. Luckily at least one physician at the university shared her vision, Henry Silver, a pediatrician who passed away in 1991. Their work culminated in the nation’s first pediatric nurse practitioner training program at the University of Colorado’s Schools of Nursing and Medicine, in fall 1965.

And much like the retail clinics her new model of patient care would help spawn so many years later, it was an idea much larger and more powerful than any of the antiquated thinking that would attempt to stand in its way.

And although there still is a way to go, getting to where the profession is today required changing a lot of minds along the way—and change never comes easy.

“Change is the name of the game,” she said. “It isn’t easy and it isn’t swift; actually it moves too slow to suit me. But to change the game you have to be a player.”

Each day, the roughly 6,000 nurse practitioners employed by retail clinics help make a difference in patients’ lives. At the first-ever Retail Clinician Education Congress, Retail Clinician, in conjunction with the Convenient Care Association, recognized some of these “unsung heroes” for their excellence in patient care with the first-ever Clinician Awards for Retail Excellence (C.A.R.E.). This year’s winners were:

Anita Wilson-Powell, RN, BSN, MSN, ANP-C, FNP-C, Take Care Health Systems, St. Louis

In July, Wilson-Powell had a mom and her 9-year-old son come to the clinic complaining that the boy’s head hurt and he had a sore throat. Wilson-Powell took a complete history, inquiring about any medications he may be on or allergies he may have, gave the boy a physical examination and tested him for strep throat; it was negative. However, when she noticed that he was restless and was complaining of a sore back and neck, she knew she had a very sick boy in her clinic. She sent mother and child straight to the emergency for further evaluation. Doctors diagnosed the boy with meningitis. Wilson-Powell’s keen eye and swift action helped save the boy’s life.

Sandy Ryan, chief nurse practitioner officer of Take Care Health Systems

Ryan, a 16-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, received the C.A.R.E. Leadership Award for her trailblazing efforts in the convenient care industry. In the military, she initially worked as a registered nurse and then was selected to return to school to earn her master’s degree. During Ryan’s years in the military, she worked pediatrics to geriatrics and served as director of ambulatory outpatient services in a military medical facility, coordinating patient care. After leaving the military in 1999, Ryan worked in the civilian sector, an experience she described as eye- opening. Seeing a great need to provide Americans access to affordable and quality health care, Ryan joined the executive team at Take Care in July 2005—just months before the venture opened its first in-store health clinic. For Ryan, being a nurse practitioner serving at the executive level has afforded her the benefit of helping to guide the direction of the industry.

Louise Berndt, FNP-C, Bellin Health Fast Care, Green Bay, Wis.

Those who know Berndt rave about her love of the profession, but it was her work in helping a patient with diabetes that earned Berndt a C.A.R.E. award. One day a patient entered her clinic complaining of dizziness and headaches. The patient admitted that she had diabetes but did not have the money to buy her medications for the last week. Berndt took her vital signs and discovered the patient had a blood pressure of about 200/170, and immediately sent the patient to the emergency room. Later that day, the grateful patient returned to Berndt. The doctors said she probably saved her life.

Dixie Childers-Bowman, CNP, Minute-Clinic in Columbus

(Kevin Smith, director of clinical services at Minute-Clinic, accepted the award for Childers-Bowman.)

Childers-Bowman not only has an impact on her patients, she also has helped her colleagues. A nurse practitioner, a exercise enthusiast and former owner of a fitness studio in Memphis, Tenn., after relocating to Ohio last year, Childers-Bowman began feeling the pressure and time-constraint of her 12-hour workdays. Realizing that her co-workers were experiencing the same energy drain, Childers-Bowman created the “MinuteClinic Fit Club,” an unofficial workplace fitness program designed specifically for MinuteClinic employees. The program includes exercises that can be performed within the clinics during down time.

Wendy Wright, FNP, Take Care Health Systems in Tampa, Fla.

(Steve Riczu, Wright’s co-worker at Take Care, accepted the award for her.)

Wright, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year, was honored and remembered as someone who loved being a nurse practitioner, loved the autonomy of the role and loved touching patients’ lives. Wright was one of the first nurse practitioners to be hired in the Tampa market, was known for her talent for being a nurse practitioner and graduated with her FNP degree from the University of South Florida. To honor Wendy’s memory, her family has set up a memorial fund at the university. Those who are interested can mail checks to: USF Health Development and Alumni Relations, 12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., MDC 70, Tampa, FL 33612. Credit card donations can be made by calling (813) 974-3676.

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Winn-Dixie completes 100th store remodel

BY Michael Johnsen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Less than 18 months after announcing a major remodel initiative for all of its 521 stores, Winn-Dixie Stores, on Thursday announced the completion of remodel No. 100.

The newest remodeled store, in the Miami suburb of Hialeah, is celebrating its grand opening today.

The Hialeah store showcases the company’s fresh and local strategic initiative—an updated storefront, combined with expanded produce and floral departments. The store’s deli and bakery were upgraded with a wood-burning rotisserie and bread warmer, a wing bar, an olive bar and a specialty dessert case. The store also features new energy-efficient refrigerators and frozen food cases as well as new wood flooring and a contemporary color palette.

“This is not only a milestone for our Company, but it also symbolizes the hard work and dedication of our associates and the loyalty of our customers,” stated Peter Lynch, Winn-Dixie’s chairman, chief executive officer and president. “It’s all about being fresh and local—from our decor to our merchandising and marketing initiatives, we are tailoring every detail of our remodeled stores to meet the needs of neighborhoods we serve. As the remodel program moves forward, we will have a significantly stronger store base from which to compete and leverage the strength of our brand. We plan to remodel half the chain by June 2010.”

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Longs to carry GE digital cameras

BY Michael Johnsen

TORRANCE, Calif. Already distributed through Walgreens, General Imaging, the worldwide exclusive licensee for GE digital cameras, may be getting a foot in the door with CVS with Thursday’s announcement that its retail camera line is to be picked up by Longs Drug beginning in October.

Under the agreement, Longs stores will stock three models—the A730 Black, the A835 Black and the A1030 Red.

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