So What is in that Bottle Anyway?
Posted on: Thursday, January 21, 2010As I again previewed the video, Sentimental Women, for my class on the history of nursing, I was reminded how closely today's public health nursing mirrors the beginnings of public health nursing. Within days my thoughts were confirmed.
I was in my classroom waiting for students to arrive. They would be presenting their community health assessment semester-long projects. Just as I was going to get the class focused and invite the first group of students to present, a student rushed in and marched right up to the front of the classroom and said, "I have something I must tell you." It was obvious she was passionately excited about something. She continued, "As you know I did my practicum over in Wisconsin where I live. I was done with my practicum but one day they called me to ask if I would go out on a joint visit with a public health nurse because I can speak some Spanish. I said sure. The visit was to a Hispanic couple about 20 years old with a new baby. When we walked in, I noticed the bottle. It had something peculiar in it - it looked yellow - but I knew people from different cultures did different things. I tried to think what could be in the bottle. I just couldn't think of what might be in the bottle, so finally I asked.
THIS was what was in the bottle!" She was holding a small aluminum-colored, shrink-wrapped package. The other students asked, “What is that?"
It was the complementary ice pack supplied by one of the formula companies. The mother had read the word formula on the packet and thought it was the actual formula. She had opened it and attempted to mix it with water and was feeding this to the baby! The PHN called the Poison Control to learn if the infant was in danger. Thankfully not, but of course, the infant was not receiving any nutrition from this substance either.
On hearing the story I thought how very fortunate this family was to have had a public health nurse visiting them and at the same time marveled at how history was repeating itself. A public health nurse was again helping immigrants find their way in a new country.