Registered nurse Rick Risher is used to tending to patients rolled into the Surgical ICU.
Come May 5, he'll be pushing a gurney, but not one bearing a patient at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Risher and a team of UMMC employees will kick off National Nursing Week with a friendly competition: racing gurneys against Baptist Hospital employees at Fondren's First Thursday, a family friendly event held from 5-10 p.m. the first Thursday of the month in the Fondren neighborhood near the Medical Center.
He was roped into racing as part of the week-long tribute to the nursing profession by Adrienne Murray, director of nursing quality, development and professional practice. “She came busting around the corner and said, 'I need you to say yes to something.' When she told me about it and what it was for, I said it looks like it will be fun,” Risher said.
It's just one activity planned as the Medical Center observes National Nurses Week May 6-12, which overlaps with National Hospital Week, to be observed at UMMC May 9-13. They feature a combination of concessions, games, informational booths and other tributes along their twin themes of “Making a World of Difference.”
“Nursing is the largest of the health-care professions and continues to grow,” Murray said. “The nursing profession plays an essential role in improving outcomes, improving access, coordinating care and reducing health-care costs. Simply put, the public wants leaders they can trust.”
“Hospital Week is an opportunity to recognize our team,” said Kevin Cook, chief executive officer of University Hospitals and Health System. “On a daily basis, people throughout the hospitals of the UMMC system do heroic things for our patients and each other. Hospital Week is an opportunity to say thank you.”
UMMC neuroscience intensive care registered nurses Latasha Spencer (left) and Cassie Salvo work in the Neuro ICU.
UMMC's nursing force is more than 2,000 strong and encompasses main campus hospitals, clinics in the metro and statewide, UMMC Grenada and UMMC Holmes County. They care for the sickest of the sick, many of them disadvantaged.
Risher has some experience that should put him in good stead at the gurney races. “In the SICU, we're used to running and responding to alarms,” he said.
“We like the aspect of different hospitals competing against each other. I can be a little bit of a klutz, but I can laugh it off just as well as anybody can.”
National Nurses Week also includes an information booth at Fondren's First Thursday. The first 30 nurses with UMMC employee badges will receive a gift. May 6-9, nurses are invited to make a cell phone video skit, 3 to 5 minutes long, showing how nurses in their unit or department make a world of difference. Submit to NursingQuality@umc.edu by midnight May 9, and the winner will receive a pizza party.
An online trivia competition for nurses will take place at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. May 6 and May 9-12, accessible via the yellow pages on the Intranet, and prize drawings will be held during the week. A webinar on “Culturally Congruent Care” is noon-1 p.m. May 10. All nurses who show their UMMC badge will receive a free cinnamon roll at Cinnabon at Northpark Mall.
Terri Gillespie, the Medical Center's chief nursing executive, will throw out the first pitch at the May 12 M-Braves game.
The observance ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing who organized the nursing of sick and wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. She transformed nursing into a respectable profession for women and worked tirelessly to improve health standards before her death in 1910.
“Our nurses are resilient, compassionate and steadfast,” Murray said. “Many times, our nurses will use their own money to purchase clothing for our patients to wear home because they do not have anything to wear. It is because of nurses like ours that nursing continues to be the most trusted profession.”
National Hospital Week will kick off May 9 with concessions available from 2-4 p.m. in the open area behind the Guyton Research Building. The treats include T&J Sno Cones, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Bop's and Deep South Pops.
On hand will be staff from the UMMC Wellness Center, who will lead employees in a “Deck of Cards” workout. The exercise involves taking a card from a deck, with hearts, diamond, spades and clubs representing different exercises.
On sale in the concession and through the week are $5 tickets to UMMC Night at the M-Braves, set for 7 p.m. May 12 at Trustmark Park in Pearl. Employees, students and alumni are eligible for the special price.
An employee assistance webinar on “managing life's competing demands' is at noon May 10. On May 11, a free employee sandwich meal will be served from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the School of Medicine Entrance, the Pavilion Courtyard and the Wiser Courtyard. Each will have a Blessing of the Hands activity. Meals for second- and third-shift employees will be 10 p.m.-midnight in the cafeteria.
Employee meals will be served May 3 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Jackson Medical Mall, May 4 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Central Billing Office, and May 5 at 11 a.m. at the ambulatory clinics.
May 13 activities include food truck concessions behind the Guyton Research Building. Among the selections are Lurny D's Grille, Hog Heaven BBQ, T&J Concessions, McAlister's Deli, 2 for 7 Kitchen and Mazzio's pizza. Wellness Center employees will lead employees in relaxing yoga exercise.
“Health care is busy, and it stays busy,” Cook said. “Frequently, we don't get to slow down enough to thank folks for their hard work.”