Summary: When we hear the words "hospital," "medicine," and "health care," images of technology immediately spring to mind -- IVs, heart monitors, ventilators, dialysis machines, miracle cures, and surgical wonders. However, for most of us when we're sick, the real source of life support lies elsewhere -- with the 2 million nurses who staff America's health care institutions.
Nursing's critical role in dealing with illness, aging, and ...show moredeath has long been undervalued and overlooked. Now, it's directly threatened by medical industry cost-cutting, competition, and managed care. As the debate about health policy continues to rage, Suzanne Gordon has written a vivid account of life on the front lines of care. Life Support offers an intimate and important look at what nurses do for patients and their families. It takes us right to the bedside on hospital wards and home visits, in clinics and emergency rooms, capturing the drama of nurses' work in the story of three RNs at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital.
Gordon's heroines are nurse practitioner Ellen Kitchen, who bicycles through poor neighborhoods in Boston to visit elderly patients at home; oncology nurse Nancy Rumplik, whose technical skill and emotional support enable cancer patients to endure some of the most arduous high-tech medical treatments; and clinical nurse specialist Jeannie Chaisson, who helps new RNs and physicians begin their careers on a general medical floor.
Life Support draws on the experience of these and other nurses to examine the history of their profession, the complex relationship between doctors and nurses, and the central role that nurses play in the final days of life when care, not cure, is a patient's main concern. In addition, the book makes a powerful critique of hospital restructuring and managed care. Gordon shows how understaffing, shorter hospital stays, lay-offs, and replacement of nurses by unlicensed personnel are threatening the quality of care and shifting more of its burden onto patients' families. She describes what consumers can do to resist these trends -- through alliances with concerned providers. ...show less