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Health Care Services Working in Partnership for Positive Juvenile Outcomes

Nurse in juvenile facility
Friday, May 4, 2018 - 6:00pm
Author: 
Dale Floyd, Manager of Juvenile Justice Health Services

Each May, the nation recognizes National Nurses Week culminating on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, recognized as the founder of modern nursing. In North Carolina, Juvenile Justice looks to celebrate the positive impact our nurses provide to the youth they serve -- and to recognize the collaborative work of professionals across our system to support juvenile success.  It seems an appropriate time, as we prepare to celebrate National Nurses week (May 6-12), to highlight an example of the ongoing, daily contributions of Juvenile Justice nurses.

Over the next several weeks and months, we hope to share these stories to highlight the partnership nursing has with our colleagues in Juvenile Justice to reach the best outcome for the youth we serve.

(Due to confidentiality, we will not use specific names of youth, staff or centers)

A 16-year-old female entered a juvenile detention center with a history of Type 2 diabetes including obesity and serious symptoms related to the poorly controlled condition. Without intervention, she was likely, at a minimum, to have permanent damage to her kidneys, vision and cardiovascular system. She struggled with anger issues, school performance and compliance with rules, structure and peer interactions.

Upon admission, the registered nurse at the detention center completed a health care assessment, sought health information from the child, parent, court counselor and other professional partners. The nurse spoke at length with the young woman about her overall health, managing her diabetes and other related issues. She reached out to the school nurse at the school of record prior to admission to the detention center to seek health history. Once the nurse had gather all pertinent information she developed a plan of care for the young woman.

The plan was implemented with the youth’s buy-in and within a short time her blood sugars stabilized and her health status improved. She was more positively engaged with other juveniles at the center, and responsive to staff guidance and direction.

Nurse at Chatham YDCThe young woman was transferred to a youth development center for several months. The registered nurse at the center continued to build on the health care plan and relationship that began at the detention center. There was much to be celebrated as the young woman embraced the plan and regulated her blood sugars, lost weight and began to exercise. She engaged fully in school and gained greater self-confidence due to the work of the entire youth development center staff, but significantly based on an improved health status and the new-found self confidence that she could control much of her own health.

The final chapter is yet to be determined, but at the time of transition back to the community, our young woman was at a much healthier weight, had completed her GED and started online college classes, was positive about managing her diabetes and wrote a letter to the center nurses thanking them for “sticking with her and helping her have a future.”

As Juvenile Justice professionals, the entire team contributed toward achieving the positive outcomes from this story, but clearly the ability of nurses to intervene and resolve a serious health barrier to reaching several life goals provided a powerful, potentiating impact on overall success. 

Juvenile Justice Nurses, with support from the many internal and external professionals, contribute on a daily basis to the positive, long-range goals and outcomes of youth by removing/mitigating health related barriers and providing individual, coordinated care to support overall life success. 

New Hanover Juvenile Detention Center staffThis is shared as a celebration and recognition of all the committed, experienced nursing professionals in Juvenile Justice: Thank you and Happy National Nurses Week.

And to the Human Services Coordinators at our detention centers who contribute to positive health outcomes: we thank and embrace you as well in this recognition and celebration.