Read our short profiles of three members of the RCA Nursing Council:
Theresa Ojala, RN, MSN – Nursing Council Chair
Director of Emergency Services and Clinical Decision Units at Kingman Regional Medical Center in Kingman, AZ
Member of the RCA Steering Committee
Ojala’s work in caring for others started well before she became a nurse. The oldest daughter of ten children, Ojala was “always a caretaker,” helping her mother look after her siblings. Years later, when thinking about her career path, she quickly realized that being a nurse made sense. She has worked for many years on the front lines of emergency medicine – ten years as an EMT and another decade as a floor nurse. She also worked as a parish nurse for four years, conducting health fairs and classes for the church community, visiting parishioners with chronic illness, and traveling to Haiti multiple times on medical admission.
These experiences have given Ojala a great appreciation for cross-sector collaboration. Before moving to Arizona, Ojala worked on an initiative in Wisconsin to send paramedics to assist the chronically ill in their homes – to help them take medication, check that their homes are safe to move around in, and make sure they are eating. “We realized we had to take health care back into the community,” said Ojala.
As nursing council chair, Ojala is most excited about cultivating a new generation of talented patient advocates. “My strength is developing people to help them be the best that they can be,” said Ojala. “I want to create leaders for the future.”
Jane Muir, RN, BSN
Emergency Department nurse, University of Virginia medical center, Charlottesville, VA
Member of the RCA Steering Committee
Muir, a Virginia native and UVA alum, became interested in right care when her running buddy was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Through tireless work, communication, and cooperation, her health care team was able to give Muir’s friend just the treatments she wanted and get her back to running marathons. After hearing this success story, Muir knew that this was the kind of health care team she wanted to be part of. Taking a class in “Mindfulness and Awareness” in college further sparked Muir’s interest in right care and how clinician health affects health care delivery.
“Nurses and other clinicians are burnt out – they’re overworked, not collaborating,” said Muir. “The way the system is set up causes distractions and errors.”
To work toward a solution, Muir got involved with the Compassionate Care Initiative (CCI), a program at UVA that aims to build a resilient and compassionate health care workforce, and the Right Care Alliance (RCA). She started going to the Lown Institute conferences, joined the Nursing Council, and was a recipient of the first round of Young Innovator Grants (YIG). Through the YIG program, she developed a pilot program called Student Ambassadors of Resiliency (STARs), a series of workshops for student clinicians to recognize and minimize overuse through mindfulness and resiliency.
“Students know what overuse is,” said Muir, “but they don’t feel empowered to speak up when they see it happening.”
Kathy Day, RN
Retired nurse and patient advocate, Bangor, ME
Kathy Day worked as a nurse for over thirty years, in doctors offices, Emergency rooms, an Indian Reservation clinic, a Paper mill health department, telephone triage advice line, and more. During the early 80s she organized a nurses union at the Calais Regional Hospital in Calais Maine. She has volunteered in many capacities including work at Ronald McDonald House, Red Cross Blood center volunteer, and camp hosting at a County Park campground in Virginia.
When her father died of a hospital-acquired infection in 2009, she started advocating for more preventive measures and better accountability and transparency for hospital-acquired infections. She attended the Lown Institute Annual Conference in 2013 and was subsequently recruited by Vikas Saini, MD, president of the Lown Institute, as a potential Right Care Alliance (RCA) council member. Along with and her friend and advocacy partner Poppy Arford, Kathy has conducted several What Worries You workshops at conferences in Maine, and continues to organize clinicians and patients in Maine for the RCA Maine chapter.
Read her blog at www.mcclearymrsaprevention.com.