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May is Nurses Month

Written by Evolve's Behavioral Health Content Team​:

Alyson Orcena, LMFT, Melissa Vallas, MD, Shikha Verma, MD, Ellen Bloch, LCSW, Lianne Tendler, LMFT, Megan Johnston, LMFT
Meet The Team >

Why Does a Teen Treatment Center Need a Full-Time Nurse?

May is Nurses Month, the first week of May is National Nurses Week, and School Nurses Day is May 12. This is a month to celebrate nurses and everything they do. The first thing we want to acknowledge is that nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system. They work for and with everyone who needs help with any health issue – including mental health issues. Nurses work in hospitals, clinics, schools, senior living centers, psychiatric treatment centers, and behavioral health centers. They work in home health care, in military hospitals on overseas deployments, as well as on ambulances and emergency medical transports like helicopters.

You can find nurses performing critical tasks almost anywhere people need medical attention. Here’s a list of some of the things nurses do every day:

  • Conduct physical examinations
  • Take detailed health care histories
  • Talk and listen to patients about any issues they have
  • Analyze their patients’ needs
  • Counsel and educate patients about their care
  • Coordinate care with doctors and other medical professionals
  • Understand and implement the most up-to-date health care services, medications, and treatment plans
  • Draw blood for testing and other medical procedures
  • Check vital signs – known as checking vitals – which typically means measuring and recording heart rate, respiration rate, body temperature, and blood pressure

In honor of nurses and everything they do, we wanted to share a glimpse of what nurses do at behavioral health treatment centers for teens, like ours.

What Nurses Do at Mental Health Treatment Centers

The value of having nurses at teen mental health treatment centers cannot be overstated. In fact, some insurance plans with behavioral health benefits will only cover teen treatment centers that have a licensed nurse on their full-time staff.

At adolescent mental health/addiction treatment centers, nurses monitor vitals every day (see above), which ensures teens are physically healthy and not displaying symptoms of physical illness. Nurses work hand-in-hand with treatment center psychiatrists, clients, and family members on the administration of medication. They’re responsible for preparing and delivering prescribed medications on schedule, ensuring medication compliance, and watching for adverse reactions.

Most nurses at teen substance abuse and addiction treatment centers need to make sure teens comply with no-alcohol/no drugs policies. To that end, they conduct urine tests routinely and send samples to a lab for analysis. Onsite nurses are also important for emergency safety reasons. In case of accident or injury during treatment or any recreational activities, nurses provide emergency first aid and/or other necessary care. They will also assess whether the teen needs to go to a hospital or urgent care for additional treatment. At mental health treatment facilities, nurses arrange for adolescents’ doctor’s appointments, dental appointments, checkups, and any other medical needs.

Nurses at Evolve Treatment Centers

At Evolve Treatment Centers, safety is the top priority. This means we maintain an environment of physical and the emotional safety for all our teens. Each Evolve location has its own dedicated nurse, which is a great advantage for our teens. All of our residential treatment centers in California employ a licensed, full-time, onsite nursing professional. Our nurses are typically either LVNs (Licensed Vocational Nurses) or RNs (Registered Nurses). They oversee the physical, emotional, and psychological safety and wellbeing of our teenagers. Nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Our licensed nurses check and record vital signs daily. They track our client’s weight to ensure there’s no drastic weight loss or gain, which is a sign of deteriorating mental health. Our nurses are an integral part of our treatment team and frequently liaise with parents and other family members or guardians to support their child here. They meet with our board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists weekly to discuss requests for medication changes or dosage adjustments. They also conduct all the other routine functions of nurses at mental health treatment centers. These include urine testing, administering medications in conjunction with the psychiatrist, being on call to provide first aid or other emergency care, and arranging for outside medical treatment when necessary.

Nurses at Evolve During COVID-19

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Evolve nurses worked harder than ever. Our team sprang into action to adopt all Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidelines for essential healthcare facilities. They checked vitals multiple times a day. They stayed vigilant for coronavirus symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath. When symptoms arose, they arranged for PCR testing and provided nursing care as needed. Our nurses followed medical advice for quarantining clients who tested positive and made all necessary accommodations to support healing and recovery while maintaining the health and safety of everyone present in the treatment milieu.

Since the pandemic is not over, our nurses continue to implement these procedures in accordance with government and public health agency guidelines. Evolve nurses remain on-call to administer COVID tests for patients as needed. Currently, we only admit teens with a negative COVID-19 test. Our nurses are also responsible for ensuring our staff members follow all preventative health and safety protocols. These include mask-wearing, social distancing, and using personal protective equipment (PPE) when administering medication. Our hardworking nurses work collaboratively with local county departments of public health and will continue to do so through the end of the pandemic.

Our nurses truly are amazing. Over the past year, they’ve gone above and beyond to help our teens heal and grow in a healthy and safe environment.

This month is an opportunity to tell nurses everywhere – but especially all our nurses – something we should all tell them every day:

“Thank You!”

Our Behavioral Health Content Team

We are an expert team of behavioral health professionals who are united in our commitment to adolescent recovery and well-being.

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