Seasons of Care

Seasons of Care

Well-stocked supplies are essential

By Christine Contillo, RN, BSN
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I live where the seasons are well differentiated. If I look out the window right now I can see the leaves turning colors, I can feel the crisp night air, and I hear different birds flying overhead in the Atlantic Flyway. Migratory birds use the reservoir behind my house as a stopping ground on their way to their winter havens, and every day a few more announce that they’ve arrived.

My nursing work has real seasons, too. In the fall we’re administering MMRs to the students who can’t find their documentation, and along with that I always give a lesson about the importance of maintaining responsibility for your own health records. We place lots of PPDs for students who need proof that they’re “free of contagious disease” before beginning any health-care-related internships, and we hold flu clinics where we find ourselves giving Albuterol treatments to asthmatic patients who come in congested and short of breath. Again, I get to give a lesson about the use of inhalers. Up front you have to know where they are, and you have to refill rescue medications when they run out.

I also use this time of year to take stock of my medicine cabinet. We all check the dates on medication before we give it to our patients, but do we look at the dates on the over-the-counter meds we have in our bathrooms? It always seems that I’ve just bought something at the drug store when in fact it’s been sitting in my warm, humid bathroom past the expiration date; or the Band-Aids I have are no longer sticky; or the cough medicine has a top so nasty that I’d be afraid to open it. Did I put it away like that? I hope not.

There are a few websites that can give you tips on what you should stock, especially if you’re the neighborhood or family nurse. Beyond Band-Aids, Cortaid, Neosporin, Tylenol, a thermometer and some hot or cold packs, I’d be interested to know: What do you think is essential? I always have a compression bandage in the house, a few gauze pads and some tape, as well as flashlights, batteries and a good first aid guide. But no matter what you keep in your cabinet to prepare for the seasons, the most important thing is to make sure that what you have is clean and replaced regularly.  

Ready (a PSA campaign)
American Red Cross

Christine Contillo, RN, BSN, has worked as a nurse since 1979 and has written extensively for various nursing publications, as well as The New York Times.

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