History Center Honors National Nurses Week with Keynote Speaker

Des Plaines, IL--The Des Plaines History Center is proud to announce their next Coffee Talk speaker, Dr. Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi. She will address the History Center during National Nurses Week on Thursday, May 9 at 1:30pm. She will present the subject of her nonfiction book: "This is Really War: The Incredible True Story of a Navy Nurse POW in the Occupied Philippines."

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Warning Signs of Nursing Stress And Burnout

Nursing stress and burnout is more common than you think. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why a lot of nurses aren’t able to deliver quality care to their patients. It’s also a reason why a huge number of nurses quit or change profession.

Because of that, it’s important that you know the warning signs. The earlier you can detect it, the quicker you’ll be able to address and overcome nursing stress.

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Immune Dysfunction

Almost 24 million Americans live with an autoimmune disease—and many of them are women.

Your immune system is your body’s strongest defense against outside attackers, whether these are environmental factors or common bacteria and viruses you pick up from other people. So what happens when it turns on itself?

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Remembering Cherry Ames, Revisited

Originally published back in 2009, and a visitor favorite, we're re-posting our nostalgic remembrance of Cherry Ames for your reading pleasure this National Nurses Week, 2012.  Enjoy!

There was no one quite like Cherry Ames - at least not to those of us who, as adolescents and teenagers, dreamed of being nurses during the era from 1943 into the 1970s.  The lively pink-cheeked, dark haired young nurse was the star of the Cherry Ames series of books authored by the prolific Helen Wells. 

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How to Manage Prescription Programs Skillfully


Prescription programs are necessary for anyone who's taking medication. While medicated products and treatments are certainly one of the best ways to stay healthy, improper use can certainly produce the opposite results. If you care about your loved one then you should take every precaution necessary and that includes managing his medication schedule with the appropriate discretion. Consult the patient's doctor. If you have been tasked or you've taken it upon yourself to manage your loved one's medication then the first thing you should do is to consult the patient's physician. If he has more than one physician then you must speak with the physician who has prescribed the medications he is currently taking.

What your loved one has informed you regarding his medication may be detailed, but you can never be too sure, can you? This is your loved one's health at stake, after all. It's best to go directly to the source and consult the doctor about the medications he's prescribed.

Find out what he's taking and why. The first thing you should clarify is the generic and brand names of the medications he's taking. You've no doubt seen a prescription filled out by the doctor. Physicians are certainly one of the smartest people in the world, but their handwriting - if you can call it that - leaves a lot to be desired, doesn't it? And it's because of their chicken scrawl that some people end up buying the wrong brand. That's a mistake - in the worst case scenario - which could cost you your loved one's life.

It's critical that you understand why they've been prescribed as well. That way, you'll know what would happen if you do miss a dosage or what you should do if you're unable to access such medication for any reason.

Also, double-check the required dosages. People can easily overdose on prescribed drugs because they think that the more they drink, the quicker they'll be on their way to recovery. Sadly, it could be the reverse as well.

Be meticulous in your records. On the first page of your notebook, indicate the disease or condition of your loved one, the medications and dosages he's required to take as well as contact details of his physician and any other person that may be contacted in case of emergency.

On the succeeding pages, write down the date and time and place as well as the dosage of the medication you've administered. It may seem overly detailed, but that's better than lacking sufficient data when things suddenly go downhill. If there is more than one person who's assigned to keep track of your loved one's prescription programs, be sure that he is sufficiently trained for proper record keeping.

Keep track of appointments with doctors and other necessary schedules. Doctor's appointments, check-ups, lab tests, and schedules for any other procedure that would improve your loved one's condition should also be kept track of and is an integral part to his medical program. If you feel that you need to make an additional appointment with the doctor, go ahead and do so. It's better to be safe than sorry!

Edward Koop has written extensively on proper management of prescription programs as well as other essential subjects in quality healthcare.

Nurses know things about health and disease that they wish they didn’t.


Sometimes being a nurse isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Mostly by that I mean that you find out things you wish you didn’t have to know. And once you learn it, the idea sticks in our brain like flypaper.

So, here are five things I wish I didn’t know. But I do know them anyway.

  1. Women whose index fingers are shorter than their ring fingers may be twice as prone to osteoarthritis in the knees. Those with this predominately male characteristic tend to have lower levels of estrogen, which may also play a role in the development of osteoarthritis. You can attack this issue by strengthening the muscles surrounding your knees. While sitting, straighten each leg parallel to the floor 10 times; hold each rep for 5 to 10 seconds.
  2. I really hate this one. Linear wrinkles in one or both lobes may predict future cardiovascular events (heart attack, bypass surgery, or cardiac death.) A crease on one lobe raises the risk by 33 percent; a crease on both lobes increases it by 77 percent. Why? Who knows for sure? Maybe a loss of elastic fibers causes both the crease and the hardening of arteries.
  3. If your legs are on the stocky side, take better care of your liver. Women with legs between 20 and 29 inches tend to have higher levels of four enzymes that indicate liver disease. Avoid exposure to toxins your liver has to process, which will keep it healthier, longer. Wear a mask and gloves while cleaning or working with any type of harsh chemical.
  4. Older adults who couldn’t identify the scent of bananas, lemons, cinnamon, or other items were five times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease within 4 years. The area of the brain responsible for olfactory function may be one of the first affected by Parkinson’s disease—somewhere between 2 and 7 years prior to diagnosis. Take fish oil supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids can boost your brain’s resistance to MPTP, a toxic compound responsible for Parkinson’s.
  5. Have a hard time touching your toes? Women with the shortest arm spans are 1 1/2 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those with longer reaches. (Find yours by spreading your arms parallel to the floor and having someone measure fingertips to fingertips; the shortest spans were less than 60 inches. There’s an answer. Put your appendages to good use with a hobby such as painting or pottery. Adults who spend the most time engaged in engaging leisure activities are more than 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who spent less time challenging their brains.

Copyright © Christine Hammerlund – 2010.Christine Hammerlund is a registered nurse and the owner of Assured Healthcare, a healthcare staffing service headquartered in Gurnee, Illinois.

Identifying Dementia Symptoms in an Aging Parent


Dealing with dementia symptoms in your own parent can stretch the limits of your sanity. Sometimes you may not even notice the first symptoms of dementia -- the slow decline of your aging parent's memory. The symptoms of dementia may continue until your aging parent starts exhibiting signs of other mental disorders, such as paranoia or delusions, which frequently piggyback on the effects of senile dementia. These symptoms may keep reappearing, until you can't ignore them and you're forced to take action like I was. Hopefully, this article will help you identify dementia and other mental problems in your aging parents and help you deal with the problem by getting their condition assessed by a professional. My own mom taught school most of her life. She was highly organized and extremely independent. She read constantly and became quite adept at oil painting. At the age of 76 she moved closer to my sister and I, but her canvases and brushes never seemed to make it out of the moving boxes. I bought her a VCR for Christmas, hoping that renting movies could help her shake her newly-found disinterest in life. But the new VCR was never turned on unless I happened to visit with a movie in hand. It became, like the microwave I had gotten her a year earlier, another piece of unused technology. It never dawned on me at the time that my mom had stopped wanting to learn new things, or that this could mean that her aging mind was showing early symptoms of dementia.

Believing that Mom's depression was a result of her unhappiness with her living situation, my sister and I began a search to find her senior housing. We placed our hopes on a retirement community that offered a full-time social director to rescue her from the depressed mood we were fighting. The retirement home helped her find new friends and subdued the paranoia, but only temporarily. Soon she insisted we change her banking accounts. She accused the banks of stealing money from her safety deposit box. She also became absurdly paranoid about my brother-in-law, who she suspected, had a master key to her apartment. All missing items were blamed on this poor fellow. We never suspected that paranoia could be a symptom of dementia.

The amazing part of all this is that my sister and I continued right on with our lives, denying Mom's odd behavior while helping her change bank accounts and get new locks for her apartment. We just figured it was normal for our aging parent to become strange when she turned 80 years old. We never suspected dementia was taking her away from us.

Symptoms of dementia are insidious, because they start so slowly. Often they are mixed with periods of what appears to be normal behavior. So just when we thought she was showing symptoms of dementia, she'd return with what appeared to be complete clarity, asking us about our spouses and giving the usual motherly advice we had grown up with and trusted. Looking back, I can clearly see the progression of the disorder. But at the time, senile dementia sneaked in and stole Mom from us without a clue. Because of our busy schedules, hectic lives, and maybe a little denial, we didn't see it until it was too late.

There was also a strong fear going on. I remember thinking that if my mother was showing symptoms of dementia, I must be showing symptoms of dementia too. She was so close to me that I had a lot of her same thinking patterns. She dictated reality to me when I was growing up. I worried about this a lot. I really wanted her to be "normal" so I could feel normal. I didn't want anyone to find out my mom was acting crazy. I could just imagine everyone at work hearing the news and moving their fingers in circles around their ear saying "Ah ha! That explains it!"

So we took Mom to doctor after doctor trying to find a cure for her symptoms. Was it low iron, low zinc, or low potassium? They drew countless pints of blood trying to rule out what could be causing her behavior. But eventually, most of the doctors proved worthless in offering real help. Not one seemed to be able to tell us what was wrong. None of her five doctors could give us any advice that would help her. They all seemed to deny there was any problem. Fortunately, we met a geriatric counselor who advised us to take her to a local hospital for a geriatric evaluation. I wish we had done this evaluation five years earlier.

If your parent is acting strange and you're not getting results or a concrete diagnoses from your doctor, consider a geriatric counselor. You can find them in the yellow pages or on the Web. The small amount of money you'll pay for their services will help you retain your sanity through the decisions you'll soon be facing. A geriatric counselor will also relieve you of a fair amount of guilt as you carry out the future decisions that become necessary when an aging parent develops dementia.

William J. Grote is the author of the book "Helping Your Aging Parent -- A Step-by-Step Guide". William cared for his aging mother and made plenty of discoveries along the way. Hopefully his book can help you down the road of care giving -- which for many of us who survived the 60's and 70's, may be a completely new experience.

You can download a free checklist "Warning Signs of Dementia and Mental Illness" to help you identify unusual behavior in aging parents at http://www.boomer-books.com

Peace and Ease...

...At Assured Healthcare, that's what we are all about.  Offering peace and ease to our patients, our customers, our employees and our staff.  It's the philosophy we live by every day, as we go about the business of providing our customers with staffing solutions and our employees with job opportunities.  As we celebrate the return of Spring, we also want to recognize some exceptional people who are specialists at bringing peace and ease into the lives of others.

May 6 - 12 National Nurses Week

National Nurses Week is coming up, from Wednesday, May 6 (National Nurses Day) through Tuesday, May 12 (Florence Nightingale's birthday).  We are pleased to extend our thanks to all the nurses who work with us, and are proud of our association with them and all the dedicated medical professionals who are employed with Assured Healthcare!  Click to learn more about National Nurses Week.

May 10 - Mother's Day


Time to celebrate the women who have made our lives so much easier!  Raising children means that mothers serve not only as moms, but as nurses, teachers, mentors, homemakers, chauffeurs, coaches, chief cooks and bottlewashers, working professionals, and so much more.  At Assured Healthcare, we count many mothers among our ranks, and wish each of them and mothers everywhere a day of peace and ease to celebrate all the things they do for us.

Copyright © Christine Hammerlund – 2009.Christine Hammerlund is a registered nurse and the owner of Assured Healthcare, a healthcare staffing service headquartered in Gurnee, Illinois.

Remembering Cherry Ames

There was no one quite like Cherry Ames - at least not to those of us who, as adolescents and teenagers, dreamed of being nurses during the era from 1943 into the 1970s.  The lively pink-cheeked, dark haired young nurse was the star of the Cherry Ames series of books authored by the prolific Helen Wells.    Her sleuthing healthcare heroine traveled from hometown America to exotic locales including jungles, army bases, and anywhere else her enthusiastic bedside manner and crisp white cap were needed.  Though I don't recall the details of every one of the series' many volumes, I am relatively certain that the patients all lived, the mysteries were all unraveled, and that Cherry always returned home unscathed by tropical illnesses, war wounds or salacious surgeons.  That girl knew how to get the job done right, and move straight on to the next highly-specialized nursing assignment - and there were plenty of them!

As an assessment of my own professional skills, I decided to look back over my nursing career and see just how many nursing specialities Cherry and I had in common.  After all, we're both Illinois natives who kind of grew up around the same time!  The results were interesting - and maybe even motivational:

Nurses I HAVE been:

  • Student Nurse

  • Visiting Nurse

  • Veterans' Nurse

  • Senior Nurse

  • Private Duty Nurse

Nurses I HAVE NOT been:

  • Army Nurse
  • Chief Nurse
  • Flight Nurse (though I desperately wanted to enlist as a nurse in the Air Force during the Viet Nam era - but my father, a combat veteran, put his foot down on that notion)
  • Cruise Nurse
  • Boarding School Nurse
  • Department Store Nurse

More nurses I HAVE NOT been - yet!

  • Island Nurse
  • Camp Nurse
  • Jungle Nurse
  • Dude Ranch Nurse

Want to learn even more fascinating insights about Cherry?  What was it like growing up in Hilton, Illinois?  Where is Hilton, Illinois?  How did Cherry get her name?  What are the clues to Cherry's hidden past?  Learn the answers to these and many other burning questions by visiting the wonderful Cherry Ames Page !  Enjoy a nostalgic trip back to the days when nurses wore white (mostly) and no one had ever heard of out-patient surgery or HMOs.

Copyright © Christine Hammerlund – 2009.  Christine Hammerlund is a registered nurse and the owner of Assured Healthcare, a healthcare staffing service headquartered in Gurnee, Illinois.