Nurse finds work in medical detox rewarding
For Jessica Bradley, LPN, working in Oxford Treatment Center’s medical detoxification program for the past three years has affirmed the reasons she chose to be a nurse.
“We put medicine and caring together,” says Bradley. “Caring for our patients in detox is about applying appropriate medical therapies — but also about simply providing the emotional support for the challenges they’re facing.
“Sometimes that’s giving a hug or a kind ‘good morning,’ and sometimes it’s being firm when that’s what a patient needs. Regardless, we are sensitive to what each patient is going through and want to do everything we can to offer them comfort and reassurance.”
Oxford Treatment Center’s detox program is based in the medical services facility on the residential campus. There, patients are housed in semi-private rooms situated around a comfortable living space and a central nursing station that’s staffed round-the-clock.
Depending on the substances patients are detoxing from, providing care in such a setting can be a challenging assignment for nurses.
“To be as effective as I can be for my patients, I had to learn to set my own feelings aside,” she said. “It’s important to realize that if they speak or act harshly, it’s just a reflection of how severe the disease of addiction can be.”
At Oxford Treatment Center, ASAM-certified physicians lead the medical team and prescribe appropriate medications to help each patient manage detox as safely and comfortably as possible. The nursing staff follows those orders, helping patients taper down their medications and begin coping in other ways during the detox process.
“When you’re in that hard time of detox, we do everything we can to make you comfortable,” Bradley said. “Then later, it becomes more about talking through things and managing in other ways. What besides medications will make you feel better? If you’d like some sweet tea, we’ll brew you up a gallon.”
hile her direct-care role in their lives typically lasted only a few days, Bradley often hears from her former detox patients as they complete the next stages of their treatment and even as they mark milestones in their lives of sobriety.
“Seeing how much they’re able to change from when they enter detox to when they enter residential treatment to when they leave our campus — it’s very gratifying,” she said.
“Those outcomes make me thankful I chose to work in addiction treatment here at Oxford Treatment Center.”
A native of New Albany, Miss., Bradley’s previous experience in nursing includes caring for veterans and their widows at the Mississippi State Veterans Home in Oxford as well as in other skilled nursing settings. She is continuing to advance her skills as she pursues an RN certification.
Meanwhile, she has recently transitioned to a new role at Oxford Treatment Center, where she’s able to apply her experience as a utilization review nurse. Essentially, she is now an advocate for patients in negotiating with insurance companies to cover the care they need.
“I still work for my patients,” she said. “I do miss the hands-on work, but the way I’m able to help them now is also important. They deserve to have the best chance we can give them to get better.”