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With love from the Nurse’s diary

‘Expect the unexpected’ they said. ‘Be ready like an ever-ready battery’ they warned.

Day shift starts at 05:45 am, yes sometimes long before the sun is ready to be on stage.

Handover is the cement that keeps all the bricks together, but at the same time also the pastels that colour the sometimes grey pictures.

Before we jump into action we sing together to remind us of our Only Source, pray together and then: Lights; Camera; ACTION!

The Enrolled Nurse ensures that all the patients are awake and well. She also encourages them to ‘get up, dress up and show up.’ Everyone needs to make their own beds, tidy their rooms and be on time at 07:10 for the Chapel service.

The Registered Nurse starts dishing out medication for the day - in individual containers identified very specifically for every patient, this needs attention to detail and can be time consuming.

The phone rings continuously for urgent attention. Every call is a different flavour. A concerned mom is asking about her son’s night, an HR manager requests a sick note, a neighbour wants to report that the pets miss their owner, or someone needs information for a loved one with a problem.

The Nursing Services Manager prepare the statistics for the day, check e-mails, do a final round to see that all is well, report to HR with admin, greets the kitchen manager with numbers for meal planning, plan for the morning meeting with the therapists and confirms that there will be staff on duty for the next two shifts.

In the Chapel a moment of silence is welcoming and inspiring.

07:45 Breakfast is served and morning medicine is administered to patients, while the therapist meets for a proper update on all the adventures at Elim.

08:45 All patients are supposed to be in their group sessions. The nursing staff assists the security staff to ensure that this is the truth. All abnormalities are handled and reported as needed.

Every new admission walks in as a new opportunity to make a difference, to assist with the restoration of another family and to inject hope back into forgotten dreams.

Blood pressures, urine drug tests, pulse, respiration, temperature, height , weight and every detail of a medical and drug use history are gathered and recorded.

Patients’ needs continuous orientation towards place, people and the program as well as ongoing health education on medication, withdrawals and physical adjustments.

Above all of this, the nurses are the mothers of the house. We dry tears, assist with toothbrushes, put plasters and just listen lovingly to troubled hearts.

A mother sometimes needs to be a bit harsh to resuscitate suffocating potential…

Ongoing reassurance is priority that everything will be ok at the end.

The RN prepares for the doctor’s visit and the EN assist the new patients to ensure everybody is as comfortable as possible.

During lunch afternoon medication is administered.

After lunch the doctor is assisted during his visit, new prescriptions are organized and communicated to the pharmacy and family members, to arrange funds where needed.

The medical lectures are presented from 13:15 – 14:00 and believe you me, Elim’s patients keep nursing staff updated with the latest mixtures on the market and push every envelope to the entertainment of the rest of the audience, you can only imagine!

Reports are written on every patient, medication charts are updated, scripts are renewed. Detailed observation charts are completed and the offices must be prepared for the night shift.

At 16:00 Patients on detox medication reports to the nurse’s station for medication and a last round of vital data gathering.

At 17:00 the pharmacy delivers medication as ordered – these need to be checked, counted and stored in the specific patients’ containers.

17:45 is hand over again to the night shift team.

Depending on the dynamics of the patient combination at a specific point in time, the night staff has challenges of more than 50 shades…

You need to have an answer ready to any kind of question, and a trick up every sleeve to keep patients happy until sunrise. By the grace there is always a therapist on call, sometimes our mothering skills needs professional counselling assistance.

The RN prepares medication for the night, while the EN visits all patients to learn what the needs might be, these needs can fluctuate from minute to minute.

Emotional development is affected by drug abuse and can lead to toddler tantrums, teenage desires and everything in between.

22:00 is bed time and lights must be out.

Every night is different. Some nights are quiet and extremely long, other nights are just too short to cover all the demands. Nurses have endless conversations and cups of tea with patients that cannot sleep. We are blessed with 24-hour security guards, sometimes they protect the nurses and sometimes they protect the patients…

The nurses wear the switch board hat through the night and handle all queries.

05:00 all the new patient receives a gentle, personal wake-up call for their Vit B injections. Detox observations are done and medical files updated for the following shift. And then we start all over!

Next time when you meet a Recovery Nurse, talk to her in capital letters, she is a strong woman. She has a big heart and a loud voice, but she is addicted to miracles, and that is why she stays at Elim!

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