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Community Health Nursing

Taking care of emergency situations in the area of residence is a substantial challenge for all human resources involved in the emergency management operations. It is particularly difficult for the public health and community nurses to remain objective and highly professional when dealing with human communities that involve family, personal friends, and colleagues. In these environments, triage, assessment, and care activities can be corrupt by personal emotions and attachments. The present paper argues about the importance of remaining fact-based and goal-oriented for public health and community nurses when performing triage, psychological assessment, and addressing the major health concerns in the community after the disaster. The case of a public health and community nurse, Wayne, was used to illustrate the steps and procedures incorporated in the rescue and recovery initiatives in the community which suffered from the uncontrollable wildfires that devastated the area of South Texas.

With the disaster under control and the most critically ill residents delivered to the local hospitals, public health and community nurses become the key healthcare agents responsible for the follow-up rescue and recovery operations. Wayne’s primary recovery goal for this community is the satisfaction of clinical needs for all affected individuals and the prevention of complications from physical and mental traumas obtained during the disaster. To achieve this goal, Wayne has to examine the medical records of the locals and identify the high-risk group among vulnerable residents such as elderly people, children, individuals with disabilities, and patients with severe heart and pulmonary conditions. The next step is triage of the victims which were not transferred to the hospital. Preferably, Wayne should gather the victims in the facility with interval system of ventilation free from any immediate hazards and capable of protecting the people from the impact of smoke and high temperature. He should engage volunteers to distribute drinking water and wet towels to the victims. Afterwards, Wayne can proceed with the triage by dividing the victims into two groups depending on the severity of their condition. Those who suffer from substantial blood loss, have serious breathing problems, and appear in shock fit into the category of ‘Immediate help’, while those with less critical injuries fall within the group of ‘Delayed help.’ Wayne has to consider that individuals from the risk group are more likely to appear in the first section. When providing lifesaving support and care, Wayne should not consult his emotions and personal interests but focus only on the objective patient’s needs. After completing the triage, he should mark the victims in each category and transfer the records to the superior authorities (Community Emergency Response Team, 2004).

Those wildfire victims who lost their families and friends or had them severely wounded are likely to be more in need of crisis intervention counseling. When conducting psychosocial assessments for the residents, Wayne should bear in mind this factor and monitor the situations of the critically ill patients who had been taken to the hospitals earlier. This strategy will help to determine the need for psychological crisis intervention among relatives and enable answering their inquiries. Another category of people that Wayne should pay attention to during the psychosocial assessments are victims in the state of shock (Loke & Fung, 2014).

Wayne’s concerns on addressing the major health issues in the community after the disaster should rest with the recovering victims and the risk group which was particularly exposed to the impact of smoke. He should make sure that these patients as well as the volunteers who participated in the research and rescue operations should receive proper respiratory treatments. It is important because the greatest risks of health complications during the wildfire are associated with the effects of smoke on the pulmonary system (Petz, 2012).

To sum up, healthcare goals during triage, psychological assessment, and post-crisis treatments should be guided by fact-based and goal-oriented approaches. This strategy allows ensuring professionalism and impartiality of the public health and community nurses and the quality of service they provide. The rule is of particular importance in situations involving family, personal friends, and work mates.

References

Community Emergency Response Team. (2004). Module 4: Disaster medical operations. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training IS-317. Retrieved from http://www.cert-la.com/education/is31713Triage.pdf.

Loke, A. Y., & Fung, O. W. M. (2014). Nurses’ competencies in disaster nursing: Implications for curriculum development and public health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11(3), 3289–3303.

Petz, B. (2012). Health risks associated with wildfire smoke and how to protect against them. Ecology Today. Retrieved from http://www.ecology.com/2012/06/26/health-effects-exposure-wildfire/.