Rabbitbrush Rambler: Help when it’s needed

In rural Colorado, most of us enjoy good health, but illnesses send some of us to hospitals for out- or in –patient care at one of our hospitals from time to time, like it or not. There we appreciate the benefits from the care of doctors, registered nurses, and all the rest of the staff.

Who provides it? We see many individuals with training and experience from outside the San Luis Valley, who might be working in surgery, radiology, the lab, and so on as in cities. Another, like a nephew of mine, started in the armed services as a medic in the Coast Guard and afterward went on to become an assistant physician, so there are lots to help us when we need them.

Some came far from here, but we also have a welcome source of home-grown care workers right here in the Valley. They are students who have attended Adams State University and Trinidad State Junior College’s campus at Alamosa.

Thinking about employment as a nationwide issue, it makes sense that more young people are seeking careers in the burgeoning field of health care. Let’s face it – traditional jobs of past times in extractive industries are not going to fill today’s real-world employment needs. And today’s jobs often require education, too.

Trinidad’s two-year program offers a degree in nursing and a bachelor of science nursing degree. Upon completion, a graduate can apply for a license. Sometimes nursing assistants are called nursing aides or LPNs, meaning licensed practical nurse. Here in the Valley, many of the nursing assistants are coming from Alamosa’s Trinidad program.

Adams State’s program offers a deeper foundation in nursing for its graduates, who can become registered nurses by applying for license after graduation. Their degree work provides a foundation in nutrition, anatomy, physiology, microbiology, organic and biological chemistry. There also are prerequisites in communications, social and behavioral science, history, arts and humanities, quantitative thinking, and math.

These jobs are not to be entered into lightly. They are much more than simply being a way to earn a livelihood. Besides the functions we patients see as the caregivers whisk in and out of our rooms, some special attributes are needed.

Attention to detail, answering the incessant alert buttons, and following orders exactly are some of them. As the caregivers scurry from room to room, they might not always be the type to take time to offer compassion, too, but the very best ones do.

Not everyone is cut out for this type of demanding work, and those who don’t should perhaps think of finding a different type of job that will be longer on glamor and shorter on efficiency. And let’s admit that some patients are better than others, too.

Each hospital is different. Some hospitals offer more appetizing menus and have workers who bring the food more cheerfully. Some have quiet, single rooms, some don’t.

At the moment I’m remembering a cheerful worker named Grace, whose duties included changing bed linens and helping patients with showers. She arrived every morning with a cheery smile, and during bath time she would sometimes throw in a little song-and-dance routine. Definitely a diamond in the rough.

We have much to be grateful for in the Valley, especially when we are sick, and the caregivers make a huge difference in how we feel when we have to be sent to a hospital.