By DEBORAH A. MILES If you work at a state agency, chances are you have
met an Employee Health Service (EHS) nurse. Maybe it was simply to get an
aspirin or annual flu shot. But did you know they are trained and qualified to
be first responders in the event of cardiac arrest?
An EHS nurse, who works under the state Department of
Civil Service (DCS), needs a minimum of 1.5 years experience in a critical care
area, according to Linda Sano.
Sano is a PEF Executive Board member and RN who works
at the Alfred E. Smith Building in Albany. She is available to 1,086 employees
and has treated a myriad of aches, pains and emergencies, including two cardiac
“Emergencies run the gamut,” Sano said. “We get calls
when someone passes out, has a chest pain or a cut hand.”
“We’re available for people in our building, whether
they need their blood pressure checked, or have any type of health concern,”
added Diana Salvi, an EHS nurse at the state Office of Temporary Disability
Assistance in Albany. “Our job is diverse.”
The diversity comes into play when they take on the
role of keeping the state work force healthy by organizing health fairs,
offering smoking cessation, weight loss and blood pressure clinics, and CPR
(cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) classes. “Our main focus is wellness,” Sano said. “We also
administer several different types of vaccinations to state employees and travel
in professional teams to perform pre-employment and annual staff physicals for
the state Department of Correctional Services, and the Office of Court
DCS has 30 EHS nurses throughout the state who work
under the medical direction of Dr. Richard Ciulla. They work autonomously,
making assessments and formulating treatment plans without a physician on the
“We are not just the nurse in the building who passes
out a Band Aid,” Sano said. “We are a hidden treasure.”
Joyce Kunz-McCaffrey who works at Stony Brook
University Medical Center on Long Island, is one of four PEF nurses offering
employee health services to the 3,500 hospital staff.
“Being a nurse is a wonderful thing. It gives you the
opportunity to help so many people in so many ways,” Kunz-McCaffrey said. “A lot
of nurses may think we just do blood pressures and pulses, but that’s really not
the case. There is the need to do so much as far as education. Sometimes, it’s
just lending an ear to someone who is having difficulty with a health or work
problem. They have an opportunity to talk to someone behind closed doors, and
that is a big relief to people.”
Just as the nurses who work for DCS, Kunz-McCaffrey
said the big blitz this time of year at Stony Brook is getting people to get
their flu shots.
“It’s a very preventative measure for the employee,
their family members and patients,” she said. “Our goal is wellness and to
contribute to a healthy lifestyle in every way possible.
AN OUCH OF PREVENTION — Joyce Kunz-McCaffrey
administers a flu shot to Arvenia Swan at SUNY Stony Brook.