“It is no secret among my friends, clients and colleagues that I have a peculiarly inquiring mind and a relentless focus on accuracy and accountability — professional side effects from 40-plus years as a CPA and business adviser in the community.
But my analytical nature is not what has compelled me to donate my time and skills to the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition (SNAC). It was the vulnerability I felt waking up in a hospital room and searching for the reassuring eyes of my nurse that has motivated me to stand up for a profession so vital to our individual and community health.
That there is a shortage of nurses in the United States should not surprise anyone. Deficits in our nursing workforce have impacted our nation in varying degrees for decades.
But today’s crisis is uniquely serious: Researchers predict this one will more than double any previous nurse shortage we have experienced since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s. It is being fueled by a perfect storm — a population that is not only growing but growing older, with an increasing incidence of chronic disease, an aging nursing workforce and limited capacity of nursing schools to replace those who are retiring.
While nurses with all levels of training are needed to provide a continuum of care to our communities, the need for baccalaureateprepared nurses in our region, and the doctorateprepared nursing faculty to train them, is most acute.
The Keiser University of Lakewood Ranch nursing instructor does what she can to recount the stories of the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001 from the prospective of a nurse who was on the scene at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, 20 blocks from the World Trade Center in New York City.
It’s actually part of her job to make sure her students don’t forget.
Malloy said the terrorist attacks were the defining moment of her nursing career. Now she teaches specific classes where that disaster is part of the learning experience.
“It’s more than likely my nursing students will experience a disaster situation,” Malloy said. “I let them know about the disaster and about ethical issues. You have to make decisions … you want to sit and comfort a patient who is dying and you can’t.
“There are so many things you need to know and it’s so important these days. The likelihood they will experience a disaster, with all the gunshots and bombings, is high. My students are going to experience some disasters in their careers, so I take it seriously when I teach it. Their obligation is to be prepared.”
With Sept. 11 approaching, I asked Malloy to share some of her memories.
St. Vincent’s Hospital, which is no longer there, was at the corner of 12th Street and Seventh Avenue when planes struck the World Trade Center. It was the second-closest hospital and closest Level 1 Trauma Center to the scene.
Malloy, who was the director of nursing at St. Vincent’s, said she had arrived at the hospital as usual, around 7:45 a.m. and remembered what a beautiful fall day it was.
“I remember saying, ‘I wish I was at the beach.’ I thought it was going to be a routine day.”
About an hour after she arrived, Malloy looked out a window and saw a plane flying way too low.
“It looked like it was flying down Seventh Avenue,” she said. “It was just a weird sight.”
At 8:46 a.m., terrorists flew the plane into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Moments later, the hospital’s disaster bell went off. The devastation could be seen from the hospital. At 9:03 a.m., another plane hit the south tower.