Nurses Week is celebrated each year in the medical community beginning May 6 and running until May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.
Bishop, other registered nurses, a nurse practitioner, and nurses aides answer to Health Department Director Eloise Waters. But the entire staff agree it’s a team effort.
Nursing supervisors at the health department, in addition to Bishop, include Lisa Patterson over Adult Services and Robin Allen with the Community Services Program.
The local health department has approximately 35 medical staff members (60 employees overall). It’s medical-care staff dominate the employee numbers, but the many other program are also very important. The number of registered nurses is usually between 10 and 20, with three (including Bishop) in expanded roles. There are two additional RNs who work out in the community.
In addition, there is Liz Pope, the nurse practitioner, five nurses aides at the clinic and four nursing aides in the community. The medical staff also include Dr. Michael Daubner, who is full time, and his wife, Dr. Lisa Daubner, who is busy at the health department part time.
The health department’s staff includes 14 office assistants, some of whom can give medical assistance in emergencies.
“Because of the guidelines and mandates, we are often limited in what services we can provide,” Bishop said in a recent interview.
“Our nursing staff has right at 3,000 encounters monthly,” she said of the workload for her staff. “We also provide interpreters for our patients.”
Bishop said medical appointments in 2011 numbered more than 30,000. “We do more through flu season,” she said, “but we also stay busy with school physicals and immunizations.”
She emphasized that it’s not just the nurses and nurses aides who carry the load. “It’s also the physicians and clerical people,” she said. Bishop added that the health department also has professional nutritionists on staff. “We’re really busy throughout the week,” she said.
The nursing supervisor said the county health department will take walk-ins at the clinic, when necessary. “We really would prefer that people make an appointment,” she said.
Although everyone who shows up at the clinic is not treated, their individual needs and limits are explained. They first have to meet income guidelines, and then the staff may not be able to meet their medical needs. “If we cannot provide services, we try to find someone (in the community) who can help them,” Bishop added. She emphasized the facility does not turn people away without some information.
Children’s medical care is provided in many programs at the department, but services from the medical staff are mostly for adults between 19 and 64. Those 65 and older normally qualify for Medicare.
Daubner has been with the health department since 2006, and was in private practice for 25 years. He said he usually sees 15 to 18 patients per day.
“We appreciate what the state has done for the health department, at this time,” said the clinic’s physician. “We hope this will improve in the future.
Bishop, Daubner, and Waters all agreed that the Bradley County Department treats people with compassion.