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Nurse case manager on hand 24/7

The following article is the seventh in a series dedicated to National Women’s History Month and this year’s theme, “Women's Art and Vision.”

by Megan Fink

Public Relations
When the term “working nine-to-five” is used, many professions may come to mind; but probably not nursing. For Florence Simmons, R.N., nurse case manager, nursing is a continuous service to her patients and community.
Her patient caseload involves patients on almost every unit in the hospital, and she works with doctors, other medical professionals, families, insurance companies, and outside agencies on a daily basis. She can be found collaborating with staff regarding a patient’s case until late in the evening, and then is on call until she returns to work the following day. Her objective is to find the best clinical, financial outcome for the patient.
This self-acclaimed “Jackie-of-All-Trades” integrates the health care team to put together a discharge plan for high-risk patients. Though Simmons’ specializes in high-risk patients, she’s involved in planning throughout the hospital. “Every patient belongs to us [MUSC], that’s the beauty of case management,” Simmons said. “If a patient falls outside the hospital, I don’t have to be involved with them to help them.”      Simmons, who is an active member of her church, is often called upon when another member of the congregation is sick or becomes unconscious. “People respect what I do,” said Simmons. “They look to me for information.” Her vision is to educate and share health care information with people outside of the hospital walls, and she’s reaching out to the people of Charleston in many ways.
As a leader in her church’s women’s group, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Simmons and other Catholic women and teens visit the local homeless shelter to feed the hungry. “I enjoy going to the shelter not only because you’re providing a meal to the homeless, but they love the fact you’re there giving your time,” Simmons said.
Simmons also gives her time to young single mothers. She’s a member of the committee for her church that is planning a community baby shower with other Catholic churches in the diocese of Charleston for pregnant women, who may not have the means to purchase child-care basics like car seats and clothing. Education and motivation also will be in ample supply at the shower.
“I’m a nurse, but I like to be involved in an organization that doesn’t focus on nursing,” said Simmons. “The organization does have a health care committee where I share my nursing talents.”
To help eliminate the worldwide nursing shortage, Simmons talks to teenagers about the numerous opportunities within the field. One of her presentations to a group of local debutants, “Nurses No Longer Wear White Caps,” explained how far nursing has come since the days of Florence Nightingale when nurses always stayed at the bedside. She also highlighted the numerous opportunities for nurses today.
Simmons’ involvement in outreach projects are matched by her efforts to promote diversity in nursing. Her mentoring program for seniors at Burke High School, who were interested in nursing, was a community project that earned her the prestigious Earl B. Higgins Achievement in Diversity award. This was a community project for Omicron Chi Nursing Society.
Under Simmons’ mentoring program, Burke students were given information about the nursing profession. This additional career-development helped the teens grow and gain exposure within their community. “We wanted to pull them into the community,” said Simmons. “Doing the one-on–ones [students and community leaders] showed them that there are successful people; minorities; nurses.”   

Friday, March 28, 2008
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