The Acceptance of Wheelchair Confined Nurses

Earlier this year, Raleigh Central Prison made nursing industry headlines after withdrawing Latisha Anderson’s job offer.  It wasn’t her wheelchair stopping her from being able to put her nursing degree to use, but the stigma associated with it.

Anderson isn’t the only nurse in America to face the challenge of being accepted within the nursing industry. In fact, her inspiration to start nursing school came from Barry McKeown, a former surfer paralyzed in a car accident.  In 2003, he became one of the first paraplegics in the nation to receive a bachelor’s degree in nursing.  He’s since managed a nursing career in the intensive care unit, and even saved a patient’s life using CPR.  “All you need is a stand-up wheelchair,” he told Anderson.

After Anderson filed a complaint with the governor’s office, the prison responded by saying she could start work on Monday.

Although some healthcare leaders cling to the rigid requirements of the nursing industry, others are beginning to make accommodations for nurses in wheelchairs, sending a powerful message to the healthcare industry.  Donna C. Maheady, Ed.D., ARNP, Associate Graduate Faculty of the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University and found of the nonprofit nursing disability resource, is one of those people.

“I always encourage a leader in particular to look at the candidate [and ask] is the person otherwise qualified? Can we at least sit down at the table and see how we can accommodate these nurses? Don’t just close the door. Can we just keep the door open long enough to have a discussion?” asks Maheady.

If you’re ready to start accepting wheelchair confined nurses in your healthcare organization, here are a few solutions you can implement to become more accommodating:

Difficulty Lifting or Transferring Patients:

  • Transfer aids
  • Team lifting
  • Height adjustable examination tables
  • Walkup changing tables that allow a child to be assisted in climbing to the examination table height

Access to Building and Work Environment:

  • Install ramps, automatic doors, and internal and bathroom doors that push open
  • Lower shelves and provide access to file cabinets
  • Provide preferred seating during training, classes, and meetings

Maintaining Clean Technique for Nurses Who use Wheelchairs:

  • Wash and dry hands, apply two pairs of clean gloves, and maneuver to area
  • Remove exterior pair of gloves
  • Use a strap or belt to secure self in chair when leaning forward to assess patient, perform wound care, etc.

Looking for healthcare professionals with experience, credentials and a commitment to extraordinary patient care? Let the experienced recruiters at BOS Medical Staffing help.  Since 2008, BOS Medical has brought talented nurses, therapists and medical administrators together with top facilities in Northeast Georgia and nationwide. Contact BOS Medical today to discuss staffing solutions for your organization.

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