SON Researches Lead Poisoning
Research endeavors are an important part of a School of Nursing student’s education, and this year several beneficial projects addressing lead poisoning, breastfeeding, and patient care were featured at Fairfield University’s Research and Creative Accomplishments Symposium.
Jennifer Delsole, ’13, of East Haven, Conn., undertook a research project on the value of a lead poison prevention program for preschoolers in Bridgeport, Conn. Like many urban areas, it’s a city where lead paint was widely used on wood frame homes and apartments before 1972 and is still present in some residences, as well as in the soil.
“Homes that used lead paint years ago continue to pose a risk for children today,” said Delsole, a Corrigan Scholar who was mentored by faculty Eileen O’Shea and Tess Longhi. “As the lead paint begins to deteriorate, the contaminated lead dust can be inhaled.”
Lead poisoning can result in developmental delays and damage to the brain and central nervous system. “It ultimately decreases a person’s function for the rest of his or her life, marked by learning and behavioral problems,” emphasized Delsole at the recent Symposium.
With the help of a puppet named, ‘Mr. Lead Spot,’ she and her nursing classmates went into elementary schools as part of a service-learning course, ‘Nursing of Children and Family’ (See image). Before and after performing the 20-minute interactive education session, nursing students studied the difference in 195 preschool children’s knowledge about lead poisoning prevention. Statistically significant results suggested that this intervention considerably improved the preschooler’s knowledge about the issue.
Kimberly Reda, ’13, of Holmdel, N.J., rotated on the maternal child health floor of Stamford Hospital, and learned how hospitals are very concerned with becoming ‘baby friendly.’ The Baby Friendly Initiative is a global program that was launched by the World Health Organization and UNICEF to promote the value of breastfeeding and the emotional mother-baby bonding that results.
Reda observed at an area Connecticut hospital that many of the mothers chose formula feeding over breastfeeding. “I didn’t know how much breastfeeding a baby boosts the immune system in so many ways formula did not,” said Reda, who was mentored by faculty member Valerie Madaffari, DNP, APRN. “Studies show that breastfeeding reduces the risk of adult obesity and the onset of Type II Diabetes, for example.”
As part of her Capstone Project, Reda then embarked on creating a pamphlet for the hospital that can be delivered to the parents of newborns to educate them about how breastfeeding optimizes a mother and baby's health.
“I am hoping my project will help mothers in their decision to breastfeed their children,” she said. “It’s a very important decision.”
While doing a clinical rotation at Yale-New Haven Hospital, Courtney Onofrio, ’13, of Hopkinton, Mass., studied implementing an effective teaching tool for nurses working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). In the ICU, nurses may administer neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBAs) to paralyze patients in order to facilitate their care. “Sometimes what the body is doing is not helping the patient,” said Onofrio, ’13, who was mentored by Sheila Iacono, MSN, RN. “By paralyzing the patient, we can help them.”
To evaluate the effects of NMBAs, nurses use assessment tools to determine the patient’s level of paralysis and degree of sedation. At Yale-New Haven, the nurses utilize ‘Train of Four Assessment’ and ‘Bispectral Index Monitoring.’
Ultimately, the two tools help healthcare providers assess the paralytic effects of NMBAs on the body and the patient’s pain level, anxiety, and any agitation because the patient can’t communicate these in typical ways due to the effects of the paralytics. They are crucial to patient care.
In the end, this project helped re-educate the ICU nurses and presented them with a reference sheet to use on the unit that highlights important aspects of the assessment tools.
“This tool helps ICU nurses to be competent in assessment measures to ensure optimal care,” Onofrio noted.