Posted: November 16th, 2022

The role of a public health nurse

At my practicum site, the role of a public health nurse during emergency preparedness or disaster planning is best directed at what public health nurses know best: population or community-based approaches (Association of Public Health Nurses, 2014). Responsibilities during planning and preparation, according to this organization, include ongoing community assessments and determining who the community consists of and what potential disasters exist. The public health nurse continues community assessments as a method of disaster planning, both to improve quality of life and to address potential issues that could cause a disaster or slow response time in the event of an actual disaster. Environmental disasters, the emergence or re-emergence of communicable diseases, and public health epidemics affecting the populations being studied are among the hazards identified by the public health nurse (Association of Public Health Nurses, 20214). Delta County has historically had some of the highest incidences of West Nile virus in Colorado, and one responsibility of the public health nurse is to monitor patients who interact with the organization and test positive for West Nile virus; this information is used to educate providers on the presentation of West Nile virus and when testing for the virus is indicated. The number of confirmed positive cases is also shared with the local public health department for tracking, mitigation, and community education.
It is critical that the public health nurse identifies community resources, provides broad emergency preparedness education to both the community and the organization, and assists in the development of organization-wide policies and procedures that provide a framework for disaster response. Identifying available community resources assists the community, families, and individuals in surviving, recovering, and responding to the disaster, and identifying these prior to the disaster streamlines the process. Supervising response drills and trainings is part of the responsibility of developing policies and procedures, so that when an emergency occurs, the organization is educated and ready to respond (Association of Public Health Nurses, 2014).

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