It’s National Nurses Week, and this year’s theme is “Culture of Safety. It Begins with You.” This is not a controversial statement. From the frontlines of care, nurses not only participate in and shape the safety culture, they also identify problems, and in some cases, innovate solutions to those problems and drive transformative change in the industry.
Firefly Medical Co-founder Steve Schmutzer, recently became a standard bearer for “It Begins with You” when he delivered the first IVEA units to the very hospital where he worked when he first had the idea for a single piece of equipment that would solve a host of issues around patient ambulation.
Steve was a nurse at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, CO, when he saw firsthand the challenges around safe patient mobility. Back then nurses everywhere were using unstable IV poles and other outdated equipment to ambulate their patients. It often took two or three caregivers to get someone up and moving, and much of the caregiver’s time was spent focused on the equipment rather than the patient.
As a nurse faced with these same problems, Steve wondered if there wasn’t a better way. In the years that followed he transitioned to a career in business and entrepreneurship and, seeing that the issues he’d wrestled with in healthcare hadn’t changed much, he made the risky but heart-felt decision to pursue his idea for a solution.
The result is the IVEA, an award-winning product designed to improve patient mobility, staff efficiency, and patient and caregiver safety. Steve worked with expert engineers and sought input from more than 150 clinicians to produce equipment that not only transforms safety, but also affirms that nurses have a multifaceted role to play in the drive for continuous improvement.
Standing at the nexus of so many measures—safety, outcomes, patient satisfaction—nurses provide the minute-to-minute care that drives all of these. They’re also ideally positioned to identify challenges and innovate the solutions that improve them.
Steve is unusual in that he took on a task as daunting as inventing a new piece of equipment that dramatically changes the way care is delivered, but nurses are among the most innovative people on the planet by necessity, and their ideas, large and small, are sorely needed.
So as National Nurses Week comes to a close on the birthday of Florence Nightingale—an exceptional innovator herself, consider the myriad ways in which nurses contribute to a culture of safety, not only by their actions but also through their ideas, their vision for a better way, and their perseverance.
Thank you for all you do!