In healthcare, it’s all about saving lives, right? But what happens when it’s about saving the lives of those who are usually the ones caring for the patients? In the case of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, it is truly about saving lives as well as caring for their peers. Thanks to their health and wellness series, they are bringing awareness through education as well as teaching their members to look past themselves while gaining a better care for all. Thanks to their peer assistance program, it is much easier for nurse anesthetists to help one another.
“We all need each other,” says Anita Bertrand, this year’s AANA wellness series speaker, who tells of her own addiction and recovery. I have written about Anita in the past as she breaks the mold regarding giving back as the 12th step requires. By sharing her story, Anita is saving lives as she puts it, “by living beyond” her disease. Anita is able to help others recognize those among them who need help. For without the intervention of others, many drug addicted healthcare workers might never find the assistance they need resulting in patient harm or, worse yet, their own deaths. Was it not for the help of others, Anta might not be around to share her incredible story.
In addition to staying strong for her family and herself, regaining her life as a nurse anesthetist, Anita helps educate healthcare workers to better identify the problem situations, to scrutinize the errant behaviors, to call out their peers and to not believe the manipulation around their addiction and the denial it causes. Anita’s words are strong and clear. We all need to step up and get those who need it help, despite the stigma which has been attached to turning in one of your own. It is not only about the patient because sometimes in helping the healthcare worker we are all much safer.
I am truly honored to be able to share Anita’s story in her own words below. Please pass it along to colleagues, friends and any others who might be inspired to help.