Media release: During National Nurses Week, May 6-12, the Georgia Department of Public Health’s ten-county Northwest Health District is recognizing the approximately seventy public health nurses who work in county health departments and at the district office in Rome. The Northwest Health District, in conjunction with local county Boards of Health, operates health departments in Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Paulding, Polk and Walker counties.
According to District Nursing Program Manager Nichole Crick RN BSN, “unlike other nursing specialties, public health nurses work to improve the health outcomes of entire populations rather than just one patient at a time. Public health nurses are often the first line of defense to prevent illness and injury. Public health nurses are also leaders in improving the quality of care and access to care through health policy advocacy that supports improving the quality of life for all.”
This year’s theme for National Nurses Week is “Creating a Culture of Safety.” The theme is an important part of the American Nurses Association’s 2016 Year of “Safety 360 Taking Responsibility Together,” an effort to promote and advocate a culture of safety for nurses and patients.
“We want Northwest Georgians to appreciate the full range of public health nurses’ contributions to their communities,” said Crick. “This certainly holds true for many of our nurses who serve as health leaders in communities throughout Northwest Georgia.”
Crick noted that public health nurses lead initiatives to increase access to care and improve outcomes by focusing on primary care, prevention, wellness, chronic disease management and the coordination of care among health care providers and settings. These nurses are even more crucial in helping plan how to expand primary care at community-based clinics in the most efficient and cost-effective ways possible, while recognizing the distinct needs of diverse communities.
“From the beginning of public health’s collaboration with emergency preparedness agencies, our nurses have been critical in responding to public health crisis events that occur in Northwest Georgia,” Crick said.
For the past 14 years, the public has ranked nursing as the top profession for honesty and ethics in an annual Gallup survey. Crick said she is not surprised that the public holds nurses in high regard and trusts them to advocate for patients.
“We would like to encourage students to enter the public health nursing field, which is projected to be one of the fastest growing occupations,” said Crick. “The demand for public health nursing care will grow rapidly as baby boomers enroll in Medicare and help implement changes due to health care reform. Public health nurses are in great demand and we certainly hope more nurses join in efforts of improving population-based health initiatives.”