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Theresa Martinez, RN, MSN, BSN, CCRN-K, former director of Patient Care Services, explains Quality Nursing Care at Shriners Children's

Quality Nursing Care at Shriners Children's

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Melanie Cole (Host): It’s the mission of the nurses at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Chicago to demonstrate excellence by applying their knowledge and skills to provide compassionate care so badly needed in this healthcare environment. My guest is Theresa Martinez. She’s the Director of Patient Care Services and Nurse Executive at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Chicago. Theresa, so tell us about the different types of nurses and nurse practitioners that you have at the Chicago Shriners Hospital and some of the areas that they specialize in.

Theresa Martinez, RN, MSN, BSN, CCRN-K (Guest): Sure. So, here at Shriners Hospitals for Children, we have a variety of different types of nurses. We have nurses that focus on orthopedics. We also have nurses that focus on rehabilitation. In addition to that, nurses that are pediatric intensive care nurses, so advanced critical care nurses and in all of this, all of my nurses have PALS, so the pediatric advanced life support certification. You mentioned nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses that have an advanced degree. So, in many of the cases, these nurses are nurses that have already worked at the bedside, they found a passion into a specific type of field that they have been working in and then they pursued their educational degree in a graduate level program. And all of them either are focused in rehabilitation or they are focused in pediatrics.

Melanie: So, when people hear the term nurse practitioner, or registered nurse or licensed practical nurse, clinical nurse specialist, whatever all of these different types of nurses are; it’s really about the education level and certifications, yes?

Theresa: Yes, that is correct. It depends on their education that they pursued and then after that, their post-degree education. So, like advanced practice nurses, they are already registered nurses and can practice with a license and then they pursued advanced degrees.

Melanie: As I said in the intro Theresa, nurses are the lifeblood, really of the healthcare community these days and sometimes underestimated, but so badly needed. What do you love about your nurses there at Shriners, because they are working with children which is a special situation in itself?

Theresa: What I love about the nurses here at Shriners is their compassion and commitment to the patients they serve. They develop strong relationships with these patients. They are advocates for their patients and in most cases, they have known these patients since they were very young, sometimes even as infants, so they have really bonded with them through their life and have been able to see them actually reach milestones and they can share that with the family. So, the nurses here are so unique because they have that ability to really bond with the families and the patients for their whole life.

Melanie: Well as you mentioned families, it segues beautifully into my next question. How do the nurses work with the families because certainly when you have parents of a child that has needs and special needs and is in the hospital; parents can be very, very nervous and anxious and how are your nurses so able to help these families through all of this?

Theresa: Well, one thing I can emphasize is that we have a care model that we emphasize here at Shriners Hospitals for Children. And our care model is – it’s an acronym FOCUSED. So, each letter of that acronym represents something. And it really does provide a strong framework as to how we provide care for each of our patients. And so, I will be able to go through those letters for you. So, for instance the F stands for family and patient-focused. So, we really incorporate the family’s views, we really ask their questions. They are an extreme important part of the plan of care. For O, it’s open communication. We are open to our families, we do bedside shift report which includes the family in the process, so they can really hear what we are saying to the oncoming shift and the off going shift and they can actually chime in and talk about what their experience was for the day. C is collaboration. We collaborate with all of our disciplines. We collaborate with the physicians, we collaborate with the rehabilitation team, speech and physical therapy, etc., so that collaborative approach is able to emphasize the whole patient versus just the medical perspective of the patient. U is understanding. Obviously, being understanding and compassionate with the family, being there, listening to them, having an opportunity to sometimes just hold their hand and let them talk through their processes. S is safe and seamless. Safety is significant priority here at our organization. And we want to provide the best quality care in the safest possible way and seamless. We want people to feel comfortable and confident when they start in our program; that it’s a seamless process and we are going to be there to support them. The E stands for expertise and education. We have a variety of different types of expertise on staff here. We promote education. We provide education to all of our staff and we encourage our staff going out for conferences to learn different things. And then in the same token, we bring many people here to do conferences for our staff. And then D is that all of our care is driven by research and best practices. No matter what we do here at Shriners Hospitals for Children, it is evidence based. We won’t do anything without that evidence and in the meantime, we are also doing additional research to continue the plan for the future with whatever type of patient that we are serving.

Melanie: What do think makes the Shriners Hospitals for Children – Chicago different from some of the other Shriners Hospitals?

Theresa: Well, we have 22 hospitals in our system across the country and that includes Mexico and Canada. And here, in Chicago, one of the – two of the biggest programs that we have that some of the other hospitals don’t see is our rehabilitation program. We are known across the country for our spinal cord injury services and in addition to that, we have a tremendous expertise in cleft lip and palate, so we have a complex cleft lip and palate program. It’s a multidisciplinary program. So, when patients come here to be seen by their physician for cleft lip and palate; they see a whole group of people. So, they get to see speech therapy, they get to see audiology, they see a psychiatrist, they see the nurse practitioner. So, when they come for their appointment; again, we are not just dealing with the acute issue at hand. We are looking at the whole patient and all the things that patient might need.

Melanie: Some people may not even know how to become a patient at Shriners Hospitals? How do they know how to go through that process?

Theresa: Sure, any child up to the age of 18 is within our scope of care. We are a specialty hospital, so we only focus on orthopedics, rehabilitation and plastic surgery. But if anyone is interested, they can always call our referral line and that number is 773-385-KIDS.

Melanie: That is great information. That’s 773-385-KIDS. Share a story for us Theresa of a family who was helped through the Chicago Shriners Hospital. Something that you’ve dealt with that really inspired you.

Theresa: So, one of the things that I’m most passionate about here, when I came to this organization, aside from caring for our patients with complex illnesses. One story in particular that is really – that really encouraged me; it just actually happened last week. We have a 12-year-old boy that was born without arms. Of course, as a 12-year-old boy is, he would love to ride a bike. Well we had the opportunity to work with a company to do – to create a special custom brace that would allow him to ride a bike without arms, and he came into our facility and was able to practice in our atrium with physical therapy so that way he can learn to ride this bike. So, now when he goes home, and its nice outside, like it is today, he will be able to go outside and ride his bike like every other 12-year-old out there.

Melanie: How absolutely cool is that. What a wonderful program that you are describing. What would you say to other families with children that have special needs, who feel that they don’t have options, or they don’t really know where to go?

Theresa: I would say give us a call. We have so many programs and options out there. We have many families that might be experiencing exactly what they are experiencing. We have the opportunity to connect them with families that are experiencing similar things and they – they will be able to see that we do whatever we possibly can, to have children with special needs have the best life that they possibly can.

Melanie: So, wrap it up for us Theresa, because as I have said, nurses are just so important. They are the most important liaison to these families with children. So, just tell us about your nurses at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Chicago and why they are such a special team.

Theresa: The nurses here at Shriners Hospitals for Children have been here for a really, really long time. They are committed and dedicated to the organization. Many of them have never worked anywhere else, because once they came here, they became a huge part of the organization and like I said earlier, they really bonded with the families. So, when I got here, that was the one thing I was able to identify is the commitment that the nursing staff has at Shriners Hospitals for Children. This isn’t a job to them. This is what they love to do. This is their passion and they come here to make a difference in all these children’s lives.

Melanie: Well, I’m quite sure that you all do and thank you so much for being with us today and all the great work that you are doing on behalf of Shriners Hospitals for Children. This is Pediatric Specialty Care Spotlight with Shriners Hospitals for Children – Chicago. For more information please visit that’s This is Melanie Cole. Thanks so much for tuning in.

About the Speaker

Theresa Martinez, RN, MSN, BSN, CCRN-K

Theresa Martinez is the former director of patient care services and nurse executive at Shriners Children's Chicago.

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