Community Involvement

The safety net you build: Nurses reaching beyond our doors

Few people lift up others like nurses do, and not just on the job. While Sentara donates hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to community organizations sharing our mission of improving health, our nurses also give their hands, heads and hearts. They spend days off, nights and weekends lightening the load of so many people in need. Here we share just a few of the nurse-led initiatives that took place in 2018.

A NURSE’S STORY: Christopher Roberts, MBA, BSN, RN, CEN
Director of Emergency and Trauma Services, Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital

“Helping in an emergency situation like the hurricane in North Carolina is so exciting. It brings you back to why you spend countless hours learning new things in training. When the time comes to apply that knowledge, we think, ‘Wow, I get to use it now. I actually get to do what I’ve trained for and what I love.’”

Saving the day for hurricane victims

“Helping in an emergency is what I love doing. We set up mini hospitals for air shows and marathons in Virginia Beach every year. We’re pretty experienced at it. When a call came that our help was needed in North Carolina after Hurricane Florence in September 2018 because thousands of people couldn’t safely travel to their usual hospital, we jumped at the chance.

It was an opportunity to help our fellow people, as we saw flooding everywhere with houses almost completely under water. The day we got to Kinston, North Carolina, there was a boil-water advisory, our shelter at the high school had a collapsed ceiling, and there was leaking.

We had a tent in the high school parking lot with an 18-wheeler converted into an operating room. Two teams, about 40 people total, covered a two-week period. We saw 294 patients.

Basically what we did was stabilize people. We saw a lot of chronic conditions that were exacerbated by the heat: COPD, bronchitis, asthma and heart conditions. Heat and humidity were making it worse for them. We flew three women in preterm labor to a hospital not easily accessible by roads and treated victims from a couple of small car accidents.

The amazing thing we heard from the North Carolina folks was, ‘We can’t believe you all have never worked together before, because this is seamless.’ Truly, for people at Sentara, it’s our mission: we improve health every day. I think we love helping people. We just say, ‘They have a need; We’re going to go down there and help.’”

A NURSE’S STORY: Karen T. Stokes, MSN, RN
Staff Development Educator, Safe Kids Historic Triangle Williamsburg Coordinator, Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center

“I keep a saying on my desk from Martin Luther King. It asks the question, ‘How are you going to help make this a better world?’ Providing care, whether I’m in the emergency room or if I’m in the community, and showing kids compassion and love, that’s how I do it.”

Caring for children outside our health system

“Our hospital president was involved with the international Safe Kids initiative before coming to Sentara and thought my background would be good for starting one here.

I’ve been a nurse for 43 years. I was an army nurse for 20 years, and I’ve spent the last 14 years in the emergency department. One of the hardest things to do as a nurse is to take care of a child when he comes to the hospital with an injury that was preventable: not using a car seat, not having a helmet on. Preventing those kindsof things is what keeps me going as a nurse.

Through Safe Kids, we wanted to look at preventing injuries in the Historic Triangle. We reached out to fire departments, police departments, school systems and other community organizations to join us.

After collecting data, we agreed to focus mostly on one area: reduce the number of road hazard-related injuries in children. Our research showed that was the greatest factor affecting preventable childhood injuries in our region.”

Safe Kids Historic Triangle Williamsburg

2018 Select Highlights in Preventing Childhood Injuries

“In April, we sponsored a Safe Kids Day. The event included a safe routes to school program with information on road safety and free helmet giveaways.

During September, Baby Safety Month, we worked with the fire departments to check car seats at a local store. Ninety percent of the time, the car seats were incorrectly installed. As some of our members provided fun activities for the children, we educated the parents.

October was Pedestrian Safety Month. The R.F. Wilkinson Family YMCA, one of our Safe Kids partners, was hosting a trunk and treat for kids, and we sponsored a similar event at the Williamsburg Indoor Sports Complex. I decorated my trunk, handed out gifts and talked to children about how to walk safely, especially in a costume, and how to cross the street carefully.”

Sentara Nursing Report