News & Events

Patient Advocate

By Kimberley S. Jordan-Horte, RN
Posted on: September 9, 2009

Kristina Kenyon, RN, is passionate about nursing. As a staff nurse on a busy telemetry unit at Jordan Hospital, Plymouth, MA, she works on the frontlines, prioritizing and ensuring her patients receive the best care possible.

Advocating for optimal patient outcomes is nothing new to her. Whether helping to formulate a treatment plan, or ensuring safe assignments for her fellow colleagues, Kenyon maintains her commitment to those who receive care, as well as to those who provide it.

In addition, she is an active member of the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), which is not affiliated with the American Nurses Association.

A Powerful Experience
In February, Kenyon traveled to our nation’s capital with more than a dozen active MNA RNs to promote safer conditions for patients and improved working conditions for nurses.

"This experience was both empowering and educational for me," Kenyon said. "From the time we departed for Washington to the time we arrived home, the conversations were motivational and upbeat.

We met with U.S. Congressmen Edward J. Markey (D-MA), John F. Tierney (D-MA) and others. We also met with members of U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry’s (D-MA) staff."

According to Kenyon, the trip was filled with positive energy and enthusiasm.

"Although we all work in various organizations, we were able to come together as a whole and make our voices heard," Kenyon said. "I was able to present the negative impact of decreased staffing and increased patient assignments on patient care. In the current economic crisis, this has been occurring more and more frequently in all patient care settings."

Kenyon said several agendas were addressed in Washington, including the Employee Free Choice Act, single-payer universal health insurance and safe staffing.

"It was exciting to witness the inner workings of our legislative system and to be able to speak openly and frankly about our personal experiences and opinions," she said. "I feel proud to have been given the opportunity to be an advocate for my patients in the best way I know how.

"I definitely feel our issues were heard," she added. "I am anxiously awaiting the outcomes of this year’s House and Senate sessions. Healthcare is in need of some serious reform, and I hope the information we shared will be food for thought for the legislators as they cast their votes."

From Advocate to Activist
As a staff nurse and member of the MNA, Kenyon learned the basics of union representation. Later, she joined the negotiation team and became a resource and spokeswoman for her colleagues.

The value of two-way communication became more apparent as time went on. Kenyon became involved with the negotiation team to shape conditions for nurses at her place of employment. From there, she realized her voice could impact countless others by taking part in the trip.

"On the negotiation team, we were actively involved with issues that seemed to coincide with the issues that were to be addressed in Washington, DC," Kenyon said. "I was passionate about the issues I faced as a bedside nurse, and I felt I needed to be a strong voice for patients, families and colleagues who were unable to speak for themselves."

Kenyon’s trip toWashington strengthened her commitment to her patients and fellow nurses.

"I have seen for myself bedside nurses can provide lawmakers with valuable first-hand accounts of what it means to be a nurse or a patient in today’s circumstances," she said. "Although I have never felt politically inclined, I have learned the importance of communication between politicians and healthcare providers."

Through it all, Kenyon also realized nursing is her true calling, saying: "I am prepared to stand up for my patients and colleagues whenever and however I can."

Kimberley S. Jordan-Horte is a staff nurse on the telemetry unit at Jordan Hospital, Plymouth, MA.