Nurses Light the Way to Better Health

“Nurses Light the Way to Better Health.” That’s Mosaic’s theme to honor nurses during National Nurses Week, which begins today, May 6 and ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

Nurses play a vital role at Mosaic. In this time of pandemic, their importance is magnified. A dedicated team of 100 health services workers has been diligently dispensing information and care across the organization to help keep people as virus-free and healthy as possible.

They keep on top of the most up-to-date COVID-19 information. They dispense advice and guidance. They model good healthcare practices for employees and people served to follow. They monitor closely the health of anyone showing possible virus symptoms (along with any other illness).

They are indispensable.

Working with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) has unique challenges.  People with IDD often communicate in different ways, not always through words or signs. Sometimes, it is only a changed facial expression that speaks volumes.

People with IDD also often have chronic health concerns that accompany a disability. Many people supported by Mosaic have chronic lung or breathing conditions that are of special concern during this time.

But with those unique challenges, the people Mosaic serves also provide unique benefits.

“They are some of the most delightful people you will ever meet and take care of,” said Kenneth Gerdes, a nurse at Mosaic in Omaha. “They seem to always happy to see you and have a smile on their face.”

Gerdes has been a nurse for 20 years, and has spent the last five at Mosaic. He started as a part-time worker, but found he enjoyed the people so much, he came on full-time.

Crystal Todd, a nurse at Mosaic in Terre Haute, agrees.

“The individuals make this career worthwhile every day,” she said. “I enjoy the fact that no day is ever the same and there are new challenges around every corner.”

Both Todd and Gerdes bring a whole-person approach to the care they provide.

“Whole-person healthcare is the idea that the mind, body, and spirit are all interconnected and the health of the whole is more important than the health of the parts,” Todd said.

Yet it goes beyond that, according to Gerdes.

“You must not only take care of the clients’ needs, but the clients’ family and guardians and make sure that everybody that has anything to do with the client is on the same page. This will make everybody happy and safer.”

Todd has worked in the field of IDD nursing for 10 years. Both she and Gerdes do not see their work with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities as just a nursing job. It is their career.

“I took my first job in IDD nursing simply because the hours worked best for my family,” Todd said. “But that convenient job became my niche and I’ve stayed in IDD nursing for more than 10 years now.”

Gerdes has joined the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association and is planning to work toward a certification as an IDD nurse.

“There is not a day that goes by that I am not learning something new about the clients,” he said.

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