Mar 14, 2012, 1:00 PM, Posted by
By Sharon Stanley, PhD, RN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Executive Nurse Fellow, and chief nurse for the American Red Cross
March is Red Cross Month. And at the American Red Cross, it’s a time to celebrate our work in communities across the country and around the globe, and to recognize how we depend on public support to help people in need. Every meal we serve to a family displaced by disaster, every emergency message we send to a member of the military and every unit of Red Cross blood we collect is made possible by the generosity of a donor.
People support the Red Cross by making a financial contribution, becoming a volunteer, taking a class or giving blood. The level of service the Red Cross provides with these generous gifts is staggering. The organization responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year, for example, and educates more than 9 million people in first aid, water safety and other lifesaving skills.
March is also a time to celebrate the contributions thousands of nurses and other health care professionals make to this organization. Nurses are a part of everything that happens at the American Red Cross.
Nurse volunteers help the Red Cross support veterans, members of the military and their families; they volunteer at blood drives. They provide health screenings and information at Red Cross booths during countless community events. They serve on the Nursing and Caregiving Sub-Council of the Scientific Advisory Council, which advises the American Red Cross on the development and dissemination of critical information and training related to CPR, first aid, caregiving and safety.
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Sep 15, 2011, 11:59 AM, Posted by
Sharon Stanley, PhD, RN, a new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow, the chief nurse for the American Red Cross, and a recently retired leader in the U.S. Army Reserves after 34 years of service, discusses the role nurses can play in disaster relief.
Human Capital Blog: Congratulations on your selection for the Executive Nurse Fellows (ENF) program. The news broke amidst earthquakes and hurricanes – not your easy season! But your work with the Red Cross is related to your plans for the fellowship. Tell us about that, please.
Sharon Stanley: It’s absolutely related. What I’d like to focus on with the fellowship is the role of nurses in disaster planning and relief at the American Red Cross. So it’s very timely! We rely greatly on nurses in disaster recovery. They’re really the “care” component of what we do. But it’s not just after the disaster strikes where nurses need to play a role. Our preparedness efforts go on all year, across the organization. We’re working to educate our various communities and lay the foundation for preparedness and recovery. Nurses are already involved in that, and I’m hoping that as a result of my work with the ENF program they’ll become even more fully integrated and take a bigger role in the leadership of our efforts.
One thing we’re doing already to help accomplish that is the addition of a new volunteer component to disaster response – the certified nursing assistant (CNA). Red Cross has been providing nurse assistant training for a while now. In disaster situations, when people are displaced, it’s important to have trained volunteers who can help care for people who live with access and functional needs at shelters. Those needs don’t go away in a disaster; if anything, those needs become more acute in such circumstances, in the midst of the chaos. So we’re ramping up our training for CNAs and, of course, that training is of use to the community not just in disaster circumstances or even just in preparation for disaster, but all year round.
HCB: Give us a sense of how you prepare for disasters.
Stanley: I think one of the biggest misconceptions about our work is that we pop up when hurricanes roll into town and then recede when the storm passes. In fact, we’re very busy making sure that needed resources are both available and in place before the storm hits, and we’re still there long after the winds stop blowing or the ground stops shaking.
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