Introducing… a geriatric emergency management nurse

Introducing… a geriatric emergency management nurse

Donna Marttunen is a geriatric emergency management nurse in the emergency department (ED) at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre (JHCC). The role was created in September 2016 to help support older adults who visit the ED.

Favourite colour: green/ book: I like to ask the librarian for recommendations/ vacation spot: Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico/ music: I like a wide range of music. I enjoy watching The Voice/ animal: the giraffe is an animal that intrigues me/ food: chocolate/ holiday: Easter

What made you enter your field of work?
I became a nurse because I saw how fulfilled my mother was as a nurse and realized that there were many areas to specialize in. I like to learn and also enjoy interacting with a broad spectrum of people. I specialized in geriatrics seven years ago when given the opportunity to work on a team focused on the geriatric population in acute care. I found that job fulfilling. Now, I see myself as privileged to work with seniors in the emergency department at JHCC.

What do you love most about your job?
I love being able to interact with the older adult who is at a point of crisis and help them to sort through the various issues that have brought them through our doors. The older adult has a wealth of experience and I am honoured to have the time to explore who they are and then be a part of their journey forward.

What is one thing you wish patients/colleagues knew about you?
I would like patients and colleagues to understand that my role is to advance health for seniors. We are a team and my role is to assist staff in discovering the person beyond the illness and assist the senior and their family to navigate the emergency department so that the senior receives appropriate care.

What do you do after work to unwind?
I commute one hour to work and I can use that time to unwind. I listen to music, mull the day’s activities and think through articles I am reading for my Master of Nursing course.

I find that being a detective helps uncover things that could lead to larger problems.

When you tell people what you do, how do they usually react?
People are very positive about what I am doing. They agree that there is a great need for elder friendly care. Then they usually tell me about an experience they had with their family member.

Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS.
I saw a patient on referral from the emergency physician with concerns about whether the patient could to return to her home. The patient had moderate cognitive impairment and lived with her spouse. The patient presented with high blood pressure. As I spent time with the patient and spouse, I discovered that the spouse had been taking his wife’s blood pressure with a home machine and when he noticed it drop the week before, he reduced her blood pressure medication. I was able to do teaching around taking blood pressures and the importance of informing the doctor of changes and following his orders. Once the patient had the correct amount of medication, she cleared medically and was able to go home that day. It is always gratifying to assist the older patient to return home, avoiding a potential long hospital stay. I find that being a detective helps uncover things that could lead to larger problems.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
I have traveled to 36 countries, been on every continent except Antarctica and swam in 3 out of the 5 oceans.