May 5, 2008 — May 6-12 is "Week of the Nurse," when the University of Virginia Health System will recognize its nearly 2,000 nurses with awards, late-night pizza delivery to units and other opportunities for recognition and relaxation. At the same time, the nurses will focus on giving back to the community and recognizing others at the hospital who help them do their jobs.
• It Takes a Team, Tuesday, May 6, 9:30-10 a.m.
The Health System's Professional Nursing Staff Organization will give its annual "It Takes a Team" award to the hospital's Language Assistance Services office, which provides free interpreter services for patients and families with limited English proficiency or who are hearing-impaired.
"We are fortunate to have our own interpreter, Karen Valencia, who really makes a difference with our patient care," registered nurse Rhoda Miller wrote on a thank-you card from the pediatrics unit. "When she is present you almost feel as though you really are talking directly to the patient because she does her job so well."
Miller echoed the sentiments of hundreds of other Health System nurses who were full of praise for the Language Assistance Services office. In fiscal year 2007, the office assisted with 18,393 patients who spoke a total of 83 different languages. Spanish, Russian, American Sign Language, Farsi and Mandarin Chinese are the five most commonly interpreted languages.
• Go Green: Ink Cartridges, Cell Phones and Electronic Recycling
The nurses will work to increase donations to the Health System's ink cartridge and electronic recycling program in May. This is part of a larger "Go Green" effort initiated by nurses and nursing students to increase recycling, particularly of plastics, around the Health System.
"Although there are many reasons people become nurses, we all share the same desire to help our patients and by extension, the community," said registered nurse Walter Mason, president of the Professional Nursing Staff Organization. "The electronic recycling program seemed like a good opportunity to help our patients, the community and the environment."
The nurses hope to significantly increase contributions by placing more drop boxes for electronics in clinical areas and designating a nurse for each area to increase awareness of the program.
Employees can donate the items through the drop boxes placed around the Health System, which are collected by the Health System's office of Community Relations, Outreach and Support. Cell phones are donated to Charlottesville's Sexual Assault Resource Agency to be reprogrammed as emergency phones. Other used electronics, such as printer cartridges and laptops, are handed over to the recycling organization Cartridges for Kids, which pays the Community Relations office for the items. The money collected benefits two projects: the annual three-day Remote Area Medical clinic in southwest Virginia, and the Health System's Medical Equipment Recovery of Clean Inventory project.
Since October, 100 cell phones have been donated to the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, and Community Relations has raised enough money to purchase a year's worth of hearing aid batteries or 200 diabetes test strips for two Remote Area Medical clinic patients.
• LPN of the Year Award ceremony, Tuesday, May 6, 5:30 p.m.
U.Va. has approximately 100 licensed practical nurses working in outpatient care areas and will recognize their contributions as well as designate an LPN of the Year.
• Professional Nursing Staff Organization Awards ceremony, Friday, May 9, 2 p.m.
Nurses will receive the peer-nominated "Nurse of Distinction," "Preceptor of the Year," and "Excellence in Clinical Practice" awards. They will also recognize the LPN of the Year.