From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 104, Number 12 - March 22, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Retired nurse assists in critical trauma at Pinedale Clinic

by Annie O’Brien

After a woman on a motorcycle was seriously injured in an accident on Pine Street last Sunday, retired nurse Marilyn Huffman was pressed into service due to a shortage of staffing at the Pinedale Medical Clinic.

According to Cindy Van, head of the Sublette County Health Care Coalition, Huffman happened upon the accident scene before EMS arrived. She stayed with the injured woman, riding with her to the clinic. Abe Keating, a family nurse practitioner on duty at the clinic, asked her to stay and help treat the patient.

No doctors or nurses were on call when the accident victim was being treated at the Pinedale Clinic. Rural Health Care District Director Randy Johnson said the district has an established practice of employing midlevel providers (i.e. nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants) for the after-hour and weekend call schedule.

Johnson called Keating and Huffman’s actions “heroic,” adding, “They saved that woman’s life.” The victim was taken to a hospital for further care. While Johnson claimed the district was not legally obligated to always have a nurse or doctor at the clinic or on call he admitted, “It’s not only the best standard of care, but it’s necessary.

Johnson estimated that about 10 registered nurses (RN) and licensed practical nurses (LPN) work for the District. At the March 20 Rural Health Care Board (RHCB) meeting, board member Walt Bousman made a motion to authorize clinic administrator Kip Boone to “any avenue” to hire more doctors and nurses.

Dave Racich told the audience he had spoken with the new hired Pinedale Clinic Medical Director Dr. James Quirk, and the two agreed, “We need nurses desperately.” Racich asked the public to help locate nurses in the community. He explained that nurses were often hired through different schools or institutions than doctors. “Nurses are a different breed,” Racich said.

Van, a retired nurse who has drafted new nursing policies and procedures for the district, said it was imperative for the district to adequately staff its clinics. “Regardless of the law, you need to have a well-staffed emergency [department],” she said.

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