Our People in Profile: Licensed Practical Nurse Kerri Sue Reeves incorporates safety and education in the emergency department

Tim Murray, Kerri Sue Reeves, Robin MacLean
Left to right: Tim Murray, manager, Valley Regional Hospital (VRH) emergency department; Kerri Sue Reeves, LPN, VRH emergency department; Robin MacLean, clinical leader, VRH ED

Kerri Sue Reeves, a licensed practical nurse at Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville, was drawn to the excitement of working in an emergency department.

“You’re in an area where like you're continuously learning. You’re faced with something new multiple times a day – it’s exciting,” said Reeves.

Reeves has been a nurse for more than 20 years and began her career in mental health. She spent several years at home raising her two children. During her transition back into the field, she realized it was time for a change.

“I wanted to challenge myself, so I thought acute care looking after the sickest patients was a new learning experience,” said Reeves.

“I can be involved with more complex health conditions and I enjoy working in collaborative assignments with many members of the multidisciplinary team,” she added.

A recent focus for Reeves has been ambulance offload times and the hospital’s commitment to meeting the 30-minute target.

“We work hard at trying to offload ambulances within 30 minutes; that is the mandate,” Reeves said.

Reeves believes reflection is important when the emergency department faces challenges.

“I want to celebrate when we do well and when we do struggle, explore the factors that contributed to this.” Reeves said.

“Is it a nursing shortage? A doctor shortage? I’m always trying to figure out how we can keep improving,” she added.

For Reeves the most challenging and rewarding parts of being a team member in the emergency department are the same.

“People are going to have really bad things happen to them, but as nurses we have the privilege of lightening that impact,” said Reeves.

Reeves was recently presented with the Excellence in Practice Award from the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia for her commitment to upholding nursing standards for the protection of the public.

In the next five years, Reeves would like to see an improvement in primary care.

“I believe access to primary care is a huge hurdle for Nova Scotians right now,” said Reeves.

“I would like to see emergency services providing a good quality service to the people that are struggling with primary care providers. I think we can help Nova Scotians out in this area,” she added.

Reeves said this could be achieved by having more interdisciplinary individuals work together, such as nurses, physicians, and clinicians with many specialties, or looking at services in a new way.

Lately, Reeves has been working in a leadership role within Valley Regional Hospital’s emergency department, providing mentorship and building teamwork and collaboration among health care providers. Safety, education and quality are priorities for the department as well.

“I provide education for the nurses, look at the things in society that are trending, how we can change and adapt as a department to better serve the people that are coming in,” said Reeves.

Reeves also works with the violence prevention program, providing information and addressing gaps.

“I help with the assessments for our department and follow up when a violet incident happens, or somebody feels threatened.”

Reeves’ next initiative is ensuring all staff have their Non-Violent Crisis Intervention training.

“I would like to see more mental health emergency training for nurses and more mental health training generally.”

Reeves gives her team a tip every morning about how to keep safe at work.

“We don't want our staff to be hurt or be afraid to come to work and do their job,” said Reeves.