"They're the captains of the ship"
The emergency department at Centegra Health System is kind of like a ship sailing on a stormy sea.
One may imagine the shipmates as a blur of nurses, doctors and patients. Then, there are the charge nurses.
“They’re the captains of the ship,” said Daniel Campagna, a doctor in Centegra’s emergency department. “Our charge nurses help save people’s lives every day.”
The hospital’s 28 charge nurses are responsible for managing the flow of patients in and and out of the emergency department.
Campagna said he would not be able to do his job without the sense of humor, skills and know-how of the charges nurses on staff. He described a world without charge nurses this way:
“Out of order,” Campagna said.
Centegra’s emergency department welcomes patients with needs that run the gamut from a treatment for a sore throat to CPR to keep them alive while emergency medical physicians can perform the work required to keep them alive.
The job demands more than one might think. A staff of charge nurses work 24 hours a day, every day of the year. It’s their job to organize operations inside the emergency department, managing where patients go and what resources are needed.
Catie Schmit is the chief nursing officer for Centegra Hospital – McHenry. She oversees the hospital’s nursing staff – a team vital to the hospital’s success.
“The charge nurses are proactive in keeping everyone organized,” said Schmit, who described the pre-shift huddle where nurses learn about what’s happening in the hospital and what the day might bring.
There’s a saying many of the nurses recite. “ ‘Today is a great day to save lives.’ ”
Wendy Evans has been a charge nurse in the emergency department at Centegra Hospital – McHenry for 31 years. She said she is proud of the nursing team.
“I am blessed to be a part of a team that demonstrates amazing skills with integrity and professionalism,” Evans said. “There is no team like ours. We take care of each other just as well as we take care of the patients.”
Charge nurses at Centegra practice what they call a “patient-centric philosophy,” according to Schmit.
“I always try to start with the understanding that when people and families come to the ER, they are having their own emergencies,” said Debbie Waterson, charge nurse at the emergency department at Centegra Hospital – Huntley. “They are not just one of a number of patients in a busy ER; they are having a very personal crisis. No matter how busy I get, I try to move from that place of compassion.”
Lauren Carr is the charge nurse and pediatric quality coordinator for Centegra Hospital – Woodstock. She aims to provide patients the same kind of care she’d give her own family members.
“My family is my world,” Carr said. “I connect with patients and their families by remembering that every person I take care of is someone’s son, daughter, spouse, mother, father or sibling. By ensuring I am doing what is best for them and providing the care I would want for my family member.”