Nurses Week Profile – Patty Blaschak
Choosing a career was simple for Patty Blaschak. She liked to help people. Nurses help people. So she became a nurse.
Starting as a floor nurse in Med-Surg, she went on to spend 14 years in ER nursing and home health care before discovering a field that increased her love of nursing even more.
“Wound care is such a wonderful thing,” she says. “It’s like a detective quest to examine the evidence and find what the wound needs to heal. If a wound is full of bacteria, antimicrobial dressings allow healing. There are germ-fighting dressings, or you may need to keep the area moist. If you can figure out what the wound needs and it works, it’s thrilling. Changing a dressing is like opening a Christmas present — how is the treatment working? How is the wound healing?”
Blaschak wanted to understand the theory behind each treatment, so she researched how to obtain certification in wound care. She saw that many nurses also earned certifications in ostomy and continence.
“Those three areas all have to do with skin integrity,” she says. “Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses (WOCN) are in high demand, and I am certified in all three.”
Since joining Mountain View Hospital in Las Vegas five years ago, Blaschak has helped her facility improve in all three areas.
In 2015, she chaired a committee on reducing hospital-acquired pressure ulcers. These painful wounds develop in patients who cannot move, and are caused by pressure, shear, nutrition, moisture, sensory, and activity issues. With strong support from hospital administration, Blaschak put new practices in place. The results were remarkable, far exceeding national benchmarks.
“I was given the best support of any hospital I have ever worked in,” she says. “My administration said, ‘What do you need?’ I told them, and they provided it all. Now, our pressure ulcer rates are so low that if one does occur, we do a root cause analysis to figure out what the heck happened.”
In 2016, Blaschak worked with the infection prevention department to reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infections
Mountain View Hospital, Las Vegas, Nevada (CAUTI). She learned of a new device that allows females to remain relatively dry without an indwelling catheter. She’s also impacted ostomy patients, whose surgical procedures leave an abdomen opening for the removal of urine or stool.
Whether short-term or permanent, ostomy leaves patients with many questions. Blaschak developed a plan of care that stresses patient education, with pre-op classes that address concerns. After surgery, her team makes sure they know how to care for themselves at home. She pointed out that in order for that transition to be smooth, the WOCN nurse team needs to see patients for at least three days. But she also knew that fears would continue when patients were no longer in the hospital.
“This group of patients really needs an advocate who knows and cares about them,” Blaschak says. “I have been involved in creating an ostomy support group, so they can come back monthly. Patients from other hospitals also attend.”
Blaschak plans to expand access to educational material for her ostomy patients, making it available via TVs in their rooms. She has shared basic ostomy training for HCA Healthcare nurses via HealthStream.
The level of care her ostomy patients get at Mountain View has been noticed by physicians. More than 44 surgeons perform ostomies at the hospital, and specifically ask for Blaschak and her team.
“Our specialty is needed,” she says. “My doctors come here because we have such a strong team. I have worked for five major hospital systems in three states and have never seen the kind of support I get here.
“At 66, I love coming to work,” she adds. “I feel like I am doing something for my patients every single day. I have a strong belief I was put here to help my fellow man, and I feel my work is a ministry to my patients.”
PATRICIA BLASCHAK, RN, CWOCN
Certified Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse
Mountain View Hospital
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