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  • A Message from Timothy J. Babineau, MD, President and CEO

  • Timothy Babineau, MD

    I know what it takes to be a nurse: intelligence, empathy, resilience, determination, an analytical mind and an observant eye. I know that some patients are demanding and that other patients are so quiet that it would be easy to miss a dangerous change in their health status. I know that doctors and patients rely on nurses to be on top of their game all day, every day. I know that in the middle of the night, it’s more often their nurse, not their doctor, whom patients want to see when they don’t feel “quite right.” And I know that nurses are at the very heart of the quality care we strive to deliver each day at Lifespan. Even if I worked light years away from health care, I would know these things. Why? Because my mother was a nurse. (Author’s note: My mother, a nurse of some 30 years, often “volunteered” to get her nursing cap out of storage, put it on and come to wherever I worked in case I needed a helping hand. I sometimes regret I was never able to take her up on that offer—even though the offer came when she was well into her 80’s. It would have made me happy to see her doing work she loved nearly as well as she loved raising a family. )

    Nursing has changed a lot since my mother’s day. Medical knowledge has grown exponentially, technology has advanced beyond what anyone could have imagined just a few decades ago, record keeping has become electronic and complex, health care has become more integrated and recent national reforms have shifted the emphasis from quantity of care to quality of care. Whether they are the essential partners of an OR team, monitoring patients in an intensive care unit, caring for patients in one of our clinics or triaging patients in our busy emergency departments, nurses remain the backbone of quality care throughout Lifespan.

    While my mother would recognize the caring, compassion and expertise that has always defined high quality nursing, I doubt she would recognize many of the tasks that our nurses perform in an average day. Nor would she recognize the variety of nursing positions created in recent years to foster quality of care.

    In addition to the critically important and “traditional” model of bedside nursing, a variety of new and innovative nursing roles have evolved over the years. For example, our nurse navigators help patients make their way through our complex health care system, from diagnosis to treatment and beyond. These nurses ensure that patients understand the “whys” and the “hows” of the care they receive, make appropriate appointments and ensure that care is coordinated every step of the way. Another example of new nursing roles involve nurse coaches who work with patients who are being discharged, explaining discharge instructions, making sure patients receive follow-up care and that they are able to perform discharge instructions such as changing a dressing or recognizing the signs and symptoms of infection. Our nurses are also helping to develop and implement health care “bundles”—evidence-based actions that have been shown to improve outcomes. The voice of the nurse is critical in creating these bundles as they have unmatched expertise in identifying what interventions work best. Finally, our advanced practice nurses such as NPs and CRNAs are playing an increasingly crucial role in the coordinated care of some of our most complex patients.

    Throughout the Lifespan system, from cardiology, surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry, immunology, and other departments, and through the Clinical Research Center and the Clinical Nurse Scholar program, nurses are helping create new knowledge by conducting individual and group research. Research topics arise from nursing’s unique perspective of patient care, and the investigations have resulted in refining or changing the way we provide care across the continuum. Finally, the implementation of LifeChart has enhanced the work of nurse informaticists, who integrate nursing, information management and technology to improve the work flows and care we deliver to our patients.

    The exceptional abilities of our nurses have been validated over and over through the years by the many awards our nurses have received, including the prized Magnet recognition and many Beacon Awards. As important as those validations are, though, the greatest is that of our patients, who have recovered from severe illness and catastrophic injury and thrived after they returned home. The emails and letters we receive demonstrate that so many of our nurses go above and beyond to help patients and in doing so, they engender gratitude that can last a lifetime.

    My mother would not recognize all the tasks or the new occupations of our nursing staff, but I think she would quickly realize that no matter the job, the fundamental work of nursing has not changed: helping patients heal from the injury, recover from the illness or successfully manage the chronic condition. And at Lifespan, our nurses do it extraordinarily well. On behalf of the patients we serve and myself, a heartfelt and sincere thank you to all the nurses at Lifespan. Well done!

    In the steadfast pursuit of excellence, I remain,

    Sincerely yours,


    Timothy J. Babineau, MD

    President, CEO of Lifespan