|Nida Quirong Jones, third from right|
Nida Quirong Jones came to the United States straight out of nursing school in the Philippines in December 1970, not expecting to stay long.
“There were severe nursing shortages in the United States in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and they were recruiting from other countries—England, Germany, Ireland, France, and there were five openings in Philadelphia,” she says.
After checking out the ads in a nursing magazine, Jones wrote letters to health care facilities in three states that were looking for nurses. Einstein was one of them. Einstein offered, and she jumped at it.
Jones wound up choosing Einstein for two reasons. The first reason was practical. Friends from nursing school were already working in Philadelphia, so she wouldn’t be such a stranger in a strange land. The second wasn’t at all practical, and it still makes her laugh.
“I chose Philadelphia because it sounds like ‘Philippines,’” she says. “It sounds strange, but that’s what I did.”
Although she had a nursing degree from the Philippines, Jones had to serve as what was called an exchange visitor nurse for the first couple of years. Then she took her board exams, and was certified as a registered nurse in Pennsylvania. Although not every nurse who came from another country was offered the opportunity to remain, Einstein extended Jones’s stay another two years. Two years morphed into decades.
Jones, a certified nephrology nurse, has made the most of her long tenure at Einstein. As a nurse who oversees home dialysis, she is respected and admired by patients and physicians alike—so much so that she is a recent winner of the DAISY Award for Exceptional Nurses. The DAISY Award is sponsored by the DAISY Foundation in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, a young man with an autoimmune disease that in 1999 took his life. (DAISY stands for “Diseases Attacking the Immune System.”) Barnes’s family was so impressed by the care provided to him by nurses that they created the award in gratitude to nurses.
After becoming an RN, Jones rotated through several areas of the hospital, eventually becoming a critical care nurse. Renal and oncology was next door. She was recruited by the department, she says, “and I have been there ever since.”
Dialysis started in 1964, she recalls, “so I became interested back in the early days.”
Dialysis was a game-changer. In a healthy person, the kidney filters out excess fluids and wastes, but in a patient with end-stage renal disease, the kidney no longer works efficiently. Dialysis is an external means of doing what the kidney can no longer do.
There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. In hemodialysis, the patient’s blood runs through a set of tubes and through a filter. The cleansed blood is then returned to the bloodstream through another series of tubes. Peritoneal dialysis is different. In peritoneal dialysis, a sterile solution of glucose and minerals is delivered into the abdominal cavity through a tube. The solution absorbs wastes. The solution is then drained out of the body through the tube.
Until the late 1970s, peritoneal dialysis was always performed in a hospital setting. In 1978, however, technology had matured to the point where it became possible for patients to perform peritoneal dialysis at home, says Jones. However, it’s not a simple skill to master. It requires patient and family education, and in-home support. Jones, who by that time had become an accomplished patient educator, decided that working with home dialysis patients was right up her alley.
“Kidney disease is a devastating disease,” says Jones. “You can never get rid of it. I think that’s what made me stay in this specialty. It takes people a long time to accept their disease. Some probably never accept it. We as nurses can give them a positive outlook. It can be so depressing. That’s why it is so very important that they have supportive staff to help patients who are suffering with this disease.”
Training patients and family members how to conduct peritoneal dialysis is demanding. “Once the catheter is established, patients come to the home dialysis unit for training for seven to 10 days,” says Jones. “There is comprehensive training every day from morning till noon.”
Dialysis nurses continue to visit patients at home to provide support. Einstein home dialysis nurses are also available by phone 24 hours a day, and if a patient is hospitalized, they follow their progress in the hospital as well.
Given the high level of continuing support, Jones says, home dialysis nurses become very close to their patients. Often, though, developing that level of trust can be a challenge.
One patient has been undergoing dialysis for 15 years—but it took her nine years to accept it, Jones says. Until she reached that level of acceptance, she was always a difficult patient. Clearly, being a home dialysis requires perseverance on behalf of the patient.
Some of Jones’s patients got to the point where they required dialysis as a result of years of drug abuse. They could be especially difficult.
“A lot of the younger men don’t trust you,” Jones says. “We have to work hard as nurses to get them to trust us. I have to show them that I’m there for them.” Once they realize that, life gets easier—for the patient and the nurse.
What makes Jones so deserving of the DAISY Award—along with the admiration of patients and peers alike—is that she goes the extra mile, and then some. Jones holds monthly chronic kidney diseases classes, is an active member of the Association of Nephrology Nurses and the National Kidney Foundation, and she lobbies on behalf of renal patients, has taken part in research projects, and runs an anemia clinic.
Two patients and one Einstein nephrologist, Dr. Daranee Chewaproug, nominated Jones for the DAISY Award. Dr. Chewaproug, in his nomination, summed up Jones’s years of hard work and dedication in this way:
“She (Jones) has been with the department of nephrology for over thirty years and has been instrumental in the growth and success of the peritoneal dialysis program. She is loved by her patients and takes great care of their health issues. ... She is a great role model with an extensive knowledge base and experience. She is a wonderful teacher with great patience, and a true patient advocate. We appreciate her work and feel she is very deserving of this award.”
Ric Cuming, RN, MSN, EdD, CNOR, NEA-BC, vice president and chief nurse executive for Einstein Healthcare Network, couldn’t agree with this assessment more.
“Her reputation precedes her. She’s truly dedicated to this community,” Cuming says. “She’s the epitome of what a health care practitioner should be. We’ve now honored 15 Daisies, as we call them. She might be the first person who received three nominations, all at the same time. That’s pretty spectacular, very selfless.”
Jones is characteristically humble when she reflects on the DAISY award. To hear her talk about her efforts on behalf of her patients, and nephrology in particular, it’s more or less what she’s paid to do. The job is its own reward. That is an attitude typical of DAISY honorees.
“I was surprised,” she says. “I just enjoy what I do. I’m happy to be recognized by my patients and my doctors, but I don’t feel like I need to be rewarded. What’s gratifying for me is when I see my patients and know that I’ve done something to help them—that I have changed their lives.”