How nurse navigators can help seniors stay well
The morning after falling and hitting her head on a sink in her home, 72-year-old Philadelphian Linda Fein was concerned.
“I wasn’t dizzy or nauseated, but things didn’t feel right,” she recalls. She debated—should she call relatives who live 20 minutes away? They’d gladly help. But Linda, a retired librarian, treasures her lifelong independence. “I’m not going to bother them unless I know something’s serious,” she says. After some deliberating, she thought, “This is ridiculous—just go to the hospital and have it checked out.”
To Linda’s relief, a CT scan in the Emergency Department at Nazareth Hospital showed everything was OK. And two days later, even more relief came via a telephone call.
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The call was from Emergency Department Senior Care Nurse Navigator Lindsay Lion, BSN, RN, CEN. Lindsay calls patients ages 65 and up within 48 hours after they leave the Emergency Department. She makes sure they’re getting the right follow-up care.
On any given day Lindsay might:
- Arrange a home health visit
- Explain how to change a bandage
- Help to get prescriptions filled
She also offers patients something less tangible but equally important: reassurance.
“Lindsay asked how I was; did I have any unusual symptoms; and was there anything she could do,” says Linda. “She even offered her phone number should I be concerned and want to reach out.”
According to Linda, many people appreciate knowing someone is there. “We senior citizens don’t like bothering relatives for something that could be minor—even if it is still worrying us. But with Lindsay, here’s somebody saying ‘don’t hesitate to call me.’ It’s also comforting because if something seems off, I don’t have to return to the Emergency Department unless an expert who knows my situation advises me it’s what I should do.”