History of Public Health and Public and Community Health Nursing

CASE STUDIES

CASE # 1 About: History of Public Health and Public and Community Health Nursing

Michael works as a home health nurse in his suburban community. He visits 7-10 clients each day. On today’s visitations, Michael will provide care for four clients who are recovering from hip replacement surgery and three clients who are recovering from heart surgery, and he will provide intravenous (IV) antibiotics for a man with an infected wound.

Among this list of clients, Michael visits Mrs. T., an 87-year-old white woman who lives alone and is recovering from triple bypass surgery that she underwent a month ago. Michael’s goals are to check on her recovery progress, reload her medications in her weekly medication container, and administer an influenza vaccine.

Upon entering Mrs. T.’s small house, Michael finds the house in disarray: clothes are scattered about, dirty dishes with crusted food line the kitchen counters, and no lights are on. Michael finds Mrs. T. lying in bed watching television. Mrs. T. complains to Michael of feeling too tired to do anything; she eats only what is already prepared (e.g., frozen dinners or snack foods like potato chips) because cooking requires too much effort. She spends most of her days lying in bed and has not bathed in a week.

Michael helps Mrs. T. out of bed and assists her with a bath. After the bath, Michael fixes Mrs. T. a quick lunch and refills her medication box while she eats. Michael encourages Mrs. T. to start getting some exercise by doing the household chores so that her heart can get stronger. “The stronger your heart is, the more energy you will have,” Michael tells Mrs. T. Michael also enlists several services for Mrs. T.: A home health aide will come to the house three times a week to help Mrs. T. bathe, and Meals-on-Wheels will bring her breakfast and lunch. Finally, Nurse Michael administers the influenza vaccine.

During Nurse Michael’s visit the following week, Mrs. T. is showing improvement. She tells Michael, “I just love that little girl who comes to help me; she is just so sweet. And the Meals-on-Wheels program is a blessing, I now have more energy to keep this place clean the way I like it.”

Questions

1. What challenges did Nurse Michael face in his first visit with Mrs. T. that public health nurses (PHNs) in the late 1800s also faced?

2. From your knowledge about the history of public health, compare an example of care displayed by nursing leaders of the past versus the current activities of Nurse Michael. For example, how was Nurse Michael’s nursing care similar to what Mary Breckinridge provided in the Frontier Nursing Service (FNS)?

3. How do the types of illnesses of Nurse Michael’s clients differ from the types of illnesses that were experienced by clients of PHNs in the early 1900s?

CASE STUDY # 2 ABOUT CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN THE COMMUNITY

Nurse Betty is teaching a health-promotion class to a group of Hispanic migrant workers. Nurse Betty is white, and this is her first time interacting with people of Hispanic culture. Nurse Betty speaks a little Spanish, but not enough to teach the whole class in Spanish. Most of the migrant workers speak only Spanish. Nurse Betty understands that she needs to provide culturally competent care to make her health-promotion class most effective but is not sure where to start.

Questions

1. What is the first step that Nurse Betty should take to prepare for her health-promotion class?

2. What are the language barriers, specific risk factors, and traditional healing practices that Nurse Betty must be aware of if she is to successfully interact with the group of Hispanic workers?

3. How can Nurse Betty involve the community to improve the effectiveness of her health-promotion class?

CASE # 3: ABOUT ENVIROMMENTAL HEALTH

John J. is a school nurse at Jackson Elementary School, which was built in 1960. Nurse John has noticed that many students from Ms. Zee’s second grade class have come to the clinic complaining about coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. Nurse John has also observed that Steven Tea, the only asthmatic student in Ms. Zee’s class, has had more asthma attacks this year than he did last year. Because the rest of the school is not experiencing the same respiratory problems, Nurse John is concerned that something in Ms. Zee’s classroom is causing students to feel ill.

Nurse John decides to visit Ms. Zee’s classroom. Upon entering the classroom, one of the few located in the school’s basement, John is struck by the powerful musty smell that inhabits the room. While talking to Ms. Zee, John learns that the classroom has “smelled bad for years,” and that students from previous years have complained about respiratory problems. Nurse John notes that Ms. Zee has stuffed a blanket at the base of the classroom’s small rectangular window near the ceiling because the window does not close completely.

John suspects that Ms. Zee’s classroom walls are contaminated with mold. Upon further research, Nurse John learns that if water gets between the exterior and the interior of a building’s wall, mold can grow in the moist environment. This situation can occur as the result of construction defects in the building (e.g., leaky windows). Nurse John also learns that people who are exposed to extensive mold growth may experience allergic reactions, such as hay fever-like allergy symptoms, and that people who already have a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma, may experience difficulty breathing when exposed to mold. Nurse John is concerned about the possible mold contamination effect on his asthmatic student, Steven.

Questions

1. Identify the agent, host, and environment in this case study, and describe how they interacted to bring about the occurrence of disease.

2. Is the mold contamination in Ms. Zee’s room a point-source pollutant or a non–point-source pollutant?

3. What can Nurse John do to learn more about indoor air quality (IAQ) and about what to do in case of mold?

4. What are some possible interventions that Nurse John could apply to address the mold contamination in Ms. Zee’s room?

CASE # 4: ABOUT INFECTIOUS DISEASE PREVENTION AND CONTROL

Hilary S. is a nurse health inspector at the county health department. Nurse Hilary visits businesses in the community that have the potential to spread infectious diseases to large and/or vulnerable populations. Today, Nurse Hilary will visit the We Love Kids daycare center and a nearby seafood restaurant.

The daycare center cares for children ages 1 month to 6 years. To enroll a child in daycare, parents must show proof that the child is up-to-date on all age-appropriate immunizations or must show proof of medical or religious exemption. Nurse Hilary finds the records in the office area and confirms that all children have received the necessary immunizations. She observes that employees use gloves when changing diapers, cleaning a baby’s spit-up, and tending to a scratched knee from a playground accident. Employees also wash their hands after each of these events, before and after giving a baby his bottle, and before entering the 1- to 6-month-old room after leaving the 2- to 3-year-old room. Nurse Hilary also notices a flyer posted in the employee break room that informs staff of the upcoming mandatory in-service that will be held to discuss the importance of checking bottles, especially those that contain breast milk, for the correct name before feeding a child.

The seafood restaurant is a chain restaurant that has become less popular over the past couple of years. Many customers have complained about the quality of the food. Recently, 20 cases of severe diarrhea were reported to the health department by people who had just eaten at the restaurant. Nurse Hilary observes the cooks in the kitchen. The refrigerator and the freezer are kept at appropriate temperatures for storing food. Food is stored in airtight, plastic containers. Nurse Hilary watches as the cook who is preparing the chicken for broiling is also in charge of prepping the plates that are going out to the customers. Upon cutting into a piece of chicken about to go out to the dining room, Nurse Hilary notes that the center looks pink and undercooked. Pieces of wilted lettuce are scattered on the countertops. During her 2-hour visit, the main chef washes his hands twice, although he leaves the kitchen four times for a smoking break.

 

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