Eastman welcomes community nurse

Karen Robertson talks with Ellen Antell (Richard Sachs photo)

Karen Robertson talks with Ellen Antell
(Richard Sachs photo)

Eastman welcomes Karen Johnston, a seasoned nurse who looks forward to serving as our first Community Nurse/Care Manager. The interview that follows reveals her devotion to her profession and summarizes her responsibilities here.

Tell us a bit about yourself. I currently work at Alice Peck Day Hospital in the Emergency Room and have been there for six years. Previously I worked 10 years at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and 15 years at New London Hospital, some of that time concurrently. I am pursuing a Masters in nursing with a specialty of Family Nurse Practitioner. My course work is complete, and I hope to be done with my clinical by the end of this year.

I am married, have eight children and six grandchildren, and have lived in this area for 28 years. I enjoy riding horses, swimming, kayaking, hiking, and cross-country skiing. We have several Jack Russell terriers, two tropical birds, a pig, two goats, and chickens.

What is your experience and education in nursing? I graduated from Colby-Sawyer College in 1992 with a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. I also earned a Master’s degree in health care management from New England College and a Bachelor’s degree in physical education. My experience includes working on a telemetry unit at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, in the family birthing center and ER at New London Hospital, in the ER at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, as Manager of Community Health Services for Lake Sunapee Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), and as a school nurse. I have been in nursing for 24 years but have been working in the medical field for 34 years. I have always enjoyed helping people and encouraging them to help themselves through healthy lifestyles.

Describe the type of services you will provide. The community nurse/care manager is a licensed clinician who serves as a resource—someone to be contacted with questions regarding health-care providers, health services, and assistive services, such as the VNA. I can assess clinical needs, take blood pressure, observe mental state and mood, and help with the use of medical equipment. And I also plan to offer educational programs to promote health.

What are your key responsibilities? They include:
• Assisting individuals to manage health issues and related problems, including coaching residents when they need the next level of care and referring individuals to support groups when appropriate. I am also available to perform assessments if an adult child of an Eastman resident has concerns about a parent living alone.
• Recommending community resources to individuals and their families for managing illness, encouraging healing, and fostering wellness.
• Communicating with area health facilities about impending discharges and coordinating discharge planning services, especially in cases where the individual does not qualify for VNA services and has limited family involvement. I will not be doing hands-on care, which should be done by visiting nurses.
• Encouraging everyone (family, friends, health care providers, and medical facilities) to find the best interventions for an individual to manage illness, support healing, and promote good health. This may include end-of-life discussions.
• Working closely with those who identify and coordinate resources within the community.

When are you available to Eastman residents? EastmanCARES has asked me to work four to 10 hours a week. I will visit residents who have requested my services and at times hold office hours and/or clinics at South Cove Activity Center (SCAC) or at the new Center. Residents can call me or check Eastman Highlights, Channel 10, and flyers on the EastmanCARES bulletin board at SCAC for information. I am available on weekends and several days during the week.

Is there a fee for your service? No. Grants and community fundraising underwrite all costs related to my work. To further financially support this position, Eastman residents may make a tax-deductible contribution.

How will patient confidentiality be ensured? Each client will be asked to sign a Family Agreement, authorizing permission for me to provide services. This ensures patient-client confidentiality. The EastmanCARES Committee will only be aware of the general nature and number of clients seen. All other information is strictly confidential.

Provided by EastmanCARES, a subcommittee of Sustainable Eastman. EastmanCARES focuses on the well-being of Eastman residents by connecting them to resources, education, and services. The committee maintains a Resource Guide and liaises with Eastman’s Neighborly Assistance Program. EastmanCARES facilitates the Community Nurse/Care Manager Program with professional support from the Upper Valley Community Nurse Program.

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