Healthy update: Clinical nurse leaders help patients, families navigate challenges

(Lancaster Eagle Gazette) Recently, a dear family member suffered a heart attack and was cared for in a large hospital in Columbus.

My family member had numerous knowledgeable clinicians caring for him. However, my family and I became overwhelmed by all the messages we received from the physicians and members of the health care team. In fact, some of the messages were confusing and contradictory. We needed answers and clarification to help us make the best decision for our loved one. There was no liaison, coordinator or navigator to help us maneuver through the challenge. We needed a clinical nurse leader.

Fairfield Medical Center employs clinical nurse leaders (CNLs) to help patients and families navigate challenges within the world of health care. A CNL is a master’s-prepared registered nurse who works directly with patients at the bedside. This advanced degree, along with years of experience as a bedside nurse, provides the hospital with experts in the direct care of patients. These experts serve as advocates, educators and liaisons for the patients and their families. Their focus is to ensure patients within the hospital receive quality and safe care.

An additional focus of the CNLs is to help support the patient and family through their health care crisis. This could include arranging follow-up care or identifying the necessary resources to keep them well. This also could include referrals for education, financial assistance or a primary care physician. A CNL seeks to understand the patient’s illness, needs and wishes. A CNL takes this information and shares this with the health care team.

A CNL is someone you can call when you need answers. These experts at the bedside can find the answers you need to help you make the best decisions and receive the best care.

If you or a loved one needs help maneuvering through this complex world of health care, ask to speak to your CNL. The CNLs wear all-white scrubs so they easily can be identified. Fairfield Medical Center has a total of 12 CNLs employed on the inpatient units and one CNL in the critical care unit. There also is a CNL working in the Fairfield Medical Heartburn Center, which is a new service at FMC.

Fairfield Medical Center has something the large hospitals in Columbus are missing. We have nurses with advanced education and experience overseeing the care on our inpatient units. This resource is making a difference in keeping patients safe and informed. Don’t hesitate to call on their assistance the next time you encounter Fairfield Medical Center’s inpatient hospital.