A hospital or physician office is where you would expect to receive care from a nurse. But, did you know nurses also work in industries? While the environment of nursing in an industry is vastly different than in the medical field, the mission remains the same – to offer excellent care and help keep employees healthy.
To support the local workforce, McLeod Occupational Health provides Registered Nurses or Nurse Practitioners in 15 industries throughout Florence and Horry County.
The Occupational Health department assigns Registered Nurses or Nurse Practitioners to partner with industries to supply ongoing medical care, implement employee wellness programs, and offer direction on workplace safety.
RockTenn is one of North America's leading integrated manufacturers of corrugated and consumer packaging. RockTenn of Florence employs 470 people, the majority of whom are men.
The company offers an on-site health clinic with 24-hour nursing coverage, staffed by five full-time and three part-time registered nurses who help oversee the health and welfare of these workers. Gina Turner, a registered nurse, has served on the RockTenn team for five years as the Nurse Manager of this group.
At the RockTenn Health Clinic, the nurses treat an average of 50 employees a day. Some of the many health assessments the clinic offers include: pre-employment physicals, lab work, vision screenings, immunizations, annual audiograms and pulmonary function testing.
"We have four work shifts, so it is hard to schedule events like health fairs and find a time that the majority would be able to attend," said Gina. "We must be creative and find ways to make health events convenient for them to attend."
Gina and her team also make rounds in the mill. Many of the employees can not leave their work area to visit the clinic, so the McLeod staff comes to them. This allows the nurses an opportunity to ask the employees questions and to ensure that everyone is doing well.
"These are hard working people whose job schedules are rotating shifts," said Gina. "On their day off, they are reluctant to spend that time in a physician's office. The health clinic provides these employees the convenience of having their medical needs taken care of at work.
"For one employee, we made arrangements with his physician for me to administer his allergy maintenance vaccinations. This type of assistance allows the employees to receive medical care at work and spend their time off with their family," added Gina.
James Washington, Recycle Lead Operator and a 32-year employee with RockTenn, knows first-hand the benefits of Gina and her team. James is treated for high-blood pressure and diabetes.
One weekend, James began experiencing problems with his blood pressure. He visited an urgent care enter to have it checked. The urgent care center staff recommended that he have his blood pressure re-evaluated when he returned to work.
"On Monday, I went to see Gina," said James. "After she checked my blood pressure, she reviewed my medications." Concerned about the number of medications James was taking, Gina suggested he make an appointment to see a physician. James sought care from a physician accepting new patients.
"Gina helped me arrange an appointment with Dr. Patrick Jebaily with Medical Plaza Family Medicine.
"Right away I felt this bond between Dr. Jebaily and I. We have developed a partnership working towards my health goal, which is to make sure I am around to watch my thirteen grandchildren grow up," added James.
Dr. Jebaily re-evaluated James' medications and reduced them by three with a plan to lower that number even further.
"I have lost weight, and I am working on losing more. I am also feeling much better. In addition, Gina keeps checking on me. I can tell if I am experiencing problems with my blood pressure, and I will go see Gina to have it checked. Gina is a compassionate person. I believe this is not just a job for her. She sincerely cares about us. And to a shift worker like me, she is like a life line."
Krista Montrose is a Nurse Practitioner who cares for the employees at ESAB Welding & Cutting Products in Florence. With 650 employees, ESAB is the world's largest manufacturer of plasma cutters, welding equipment and welding consumables.
Krista has been a part of McLeod for twelve years, the past two at ESAB. She spends Monday through Thursday at ESAB and Fridays at RockTenn with Gina and her team.
At ESAB, Krista cares for not only employees but their dependents and children as well. She handles sick visits, well visits, sports physicals, college physicals and immunizations.
"ESAB offers a wellness program," said Krista. "One of my primary responsibilities is the management of the program. I complete blood work for each employee then we meet, review the results and establish their wellness goals. I follow up with each employee quarterly to see how they are doing."
Krista, too, makes rounds in the plant at ESAB. "It is important that I am visible," she explained. "I want the staff to know that I am here for them."
Krista has worked hard to build that trust with the employees, many of whom might not have sought necessary medical attention without her encouragement. One employee who can attest to this is Tom Swan.
Tom, a Senior Credit Analyst, has been employed with ESAB since May of 2013. It was around this time that Tom's medical problems arose. He began experiencing chest pain with physical activity and had trouble "catching his breath."
"I would take an aspirin, drink a bottle of water, rest and I would feel fine," explained Tom. However, he quickly reached the point where aspirin was not relieving the pain. His wife Sharon insisted that he go see Krista.
"I had a fall several months before, and I thought the symptoms were related to that injury," said Tom. "Fortunately, Krista was not listening to my self-denials. She made an appointment for me with Dr. Nicolette Naso at Pee Dee Cardiology for the next day."
Tom underwent a heart catheterization, performed the day following his appointment with Dr. Naso. After his procedure, Tom and his wife received the news that he needed Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting Surgery to repair the blockages.
"My heart catheterization was on a Friday, and I was scheduled for surgery on Monday with McLeod Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Scot Schultz," said Tom. "Dr. Naso and Dr. Schultz wanted me to remain in the hospital." After the heart catheterization, both physicians felt Tom's condition warranted monitoring over the weekend.
"I underwent quadruple bypass on Monday, and by Tuesday, I was up and sitting in a chair in the Heart and Vascular Intensive Care Unit. My entire hospital experience from Dr. Schultz to the nursing staff was top notch. I could not have received better care. And, I feel one hundred percent better," said Tom.
Today, Tom is making healthy lifestyle changes. He works out at McLeod Cardiac Rehabilitation three times a week. On the days that he is not in rehab he is walking his new puppy. Tom also adheres to a no salt diet and admits to putting his deep fryer away for good.
"I thank God that my wife stayed after me to go see Krista," said Tom. "And, I am eternally grateful to Krista that she forced the issue on getting me to Dr. Naso. I believe it is because of her that I am still here today. I did not know it at the time, but with the condition my heart was in, further procrastination could have led to a fatal heart attack.
"I am also very appreciative to ESAB for having the foresight to offer an on-site clinic here at the plant. ESAB is very conscious of the welfare of their employees. Convenient access to healthcare in my situation was lifesaving," added Tom.