Nurse Marge might not have all the answers, but after *ahem* years as a RN in some of the nation’s toughest hospitals, she sure knows how to make up something that sounds right! We get lots of questions here at JNJ, from nurses looking for advice and guidance and Nurse Marge has graciously agreed to answer them for us.
So with that, let’s turn the floor over to Nurse Marge!
Dear Nurse Marge,
I’m a RN who works in a small medical office setting. Many of our patients are quite elderly and not in the best health. I’m really blessed to work with a fabulous doctor and my fellow nurses are great — the best I’ve ever worked with!
The problem is one of the ladies who work in the office. She is always — and I mean always — sick. One week, she’s sneezing her head off, the next, she’s out there hacking up a lung! It’s disgusting. She never misses a day of work, though, no matter how sick she is. She’s right there, checking files, answering phones, checking in patients.
This is driving me crazy! I can’t even begin to imagine how many of our patients this woman has made sick. When I said to her that perhaps she should stay home if she was so ill, she shrugged and said she couldn’t afford it. When I asked about the patient’s health, she snapped, “Who do you think brings the germs in here in the first place?”
I talked to my manager about it, and she said that they were aware of the situation and that there was nothing they could do!
My question for you is this: Is there a way to make Typhoid Mary take time off when she’s sick or do I just have to learn to live with it?
The Georgia Germaphobe
Dear Georgia Germaphobe,
You know every office has one: a Typhoid Mary, Virus Valerie, Dysentery Dawn, Bacterial-Infection Betty-Anne — the perpetually ill colleague who just won’t call in. These folks will come to work even while they’re actively coding. You’ll be there, doing CPR for all you’re worth, and they’re on the phone, telling a patient the earliest available appointment is six months away — and that’s only if they can come on Thursday evening, if it’s raining!
While you have to admire the dedication, the truth is that working with these folks can be taxing. That’s why we ask the obvious but wrong question: How can we make them stay home? instead of How can we make them better?
Answering that question allows you to make a positive change. Think about it for a minute. Here you are: an office full of highly trained medical professionals, with years and years of training and experience focused on helping people achieve optimum health. You mean to tell me that working together, you can’t conquer your colleague’s chronic crud?
I don’t believe it. I choose to look instead to management, who have a surefire way to address any impossibility: you must form a committee — maybe even a task force!
The mission of this task force is to totally transform Typhoid Mary’s health.
One member is in charge of nutrition. They must diligently monitor everything Typhoid Mary eats, redirecting her choices as appropriate to options that are nutrient dense and high in Vitamin C. Simply saying “Wouldn’t you rather have an orange?” everytime Typhoid Mary picks up a candy bar can produce quite an effect!
Another task force member keeps track of Typhoid Mary’s physical activity. Regular inquiries about exercise routines is recommended. You can also coordinate with the office manager here: changing up job duties and routines can require lots of extra effort and wasted motion — and we know that burns calories and gets the old circulation system going!
You’ve got a doctor right there! Put him on the task force, and have him check Typhoid Mary’s condition daily. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — throw Doc on the scale and act accordingly!
Get your most sympathetic and understanding task force member (I’m guessing this wouldn’t be you.) to be in charge of mental health. This person should monitor Typhoid Mary’s moods, listen deeply to her concerns, and provide a supportive therapeutic environment in which Typhoid Mary can exercise a range of healthy decision making strategies.
Each task force member should meet with Typhoid Mary daily, if not hourly!
I don’t know about Typhoid Mary, but after about a week of this treatment, I know I’d be staying home for sure!
Have a question for Nurse Marge? Simply email it to her at Cindy@journalofnursingjocularity.com and our fearless editor will pass it along to her! Chances are good she’ll answer it in an upcoming column. Nurse Marge in Charge updates every Monday.
Also: Our lawyers insist that Nurse Marge’s advice and opinions are only that — advice and opinions. Use them at your own risk!