Virtual Nurse Associate

Virtual Nurse Associate

What is a virtual nurse associate?  
A virtual associate is an independent contract worker who works remotely in support of clients nationally. Typical tasks include administrative, technical, and business support services. Legal Nurse Consultants are well suited to work in a similar capacity serving law firms who may need assistance on a regular or per diem basis. This allows firms to scale staffing to their immediate needs and “right-size” when/if workflow subsides.  

What does a virtual office assistant do?  
Virtual nurse associates do many things including records analysis, case summaries, chronologies, identifying missing records and/or gaps in care, as well as identifying experts. A virtual nurse can do almost anything an in-house nurse can do. A virtual nurse associate can easily maintain office hours consistent with their clients or work in an asynchronous fashion, whichever benefits the client the most.   

Skills Set of a Virtual Nurse Associate  

Working virtually can be a challenge and is not a good fit for everyone.   Some people find working remotely to be isolating and stressful and prefer to work in an office environment.  Nurses are adaptable and are well suited to virtual work.  Characteristics of most nurses include:  

  • Self-starter 
  • Ability to set and see goals through fruition. 
  • Able to manage multiple competing priorities. 
  • Problem-solving skills.  
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills  

Benefits of Working with a Virtual Nurse Associate  

Communication virtually with a nurse associate need not be a challenge. The nurse can adapt their online hours to match that of the client. Should short notice taskings arise the nurse is available, just as an in-house nurse would be.  

Working with a virtual nurse associate is cost-effective in that they can be used as much or as little as needed. No doubt this model increases profits for firms. For example, the nurse could be used for a working surge before trial. If a client needs to “right-size,” no-layoff will occur as the nurse is an independent contractor without any benefits typical of an employee. The Virtual Nurse Associate does not require other benefits from their clients such as sick time, paid time off, vacation time, health insurance, or retirement benefits.  

A virtual nurse is an excellent fit for a firm who is searching for their “best fit” but needs assistance in the interim. If a less experienced nurse is hired, a virtual nurse could also serve as a mentor to the new nurse. Should the new nurse turn out not to be the best fit, the virtual nurse continues to service the firm seamlessly.  

R&G Medical Legal Solutions, LLC has a virtual nurse program, and no job is too big or too small. R&G nurses have a wide variety of backgrounds to include medical-surgical, emergency department, critical care, and long-term care, just to name a few. This allows firms to take a variety of cases knowing R&G can match the virtual nurse to the background of the case. Please contact Pamela Showers, COO at 623-566-3333 for rates and any questions.  

The month of May is Celiac Awareness Month

Celiac awareness month

There are over 200 symptoms that people with Celiac Disease may experience. You could be feeling fatigued, have a stuffy nose, get regular abdominal bloating, stomach pain, or even have an itchy skin rash.  These symptoms can be misdiagnosed for years as allergies or stomach issues, creating missed or delayed diagnosis.  Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder, not an allergy.  It can be treated with a gluten-free diet, but it can lead to colon cancer and other very serious medical conditions if not addressed.

The only way to be officially diagnosed with Celiac Disease is by a tissue sample taken endoscopically from your small intestine.  When someone with Celiac Disease ingests gluten (the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye) an autoimmune response is triggered in the small intestine. This response damages the villi that are responsible for absorbing nutrients. Many people are gluten intolerant, but please do not confuse this with someone who has Celiac Disease.  If you have a medical diagnosis, all food you consume must have less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten.  To give you an example of this, a crumb of regular gluten bread is much higher than 20 ppm.  Cross-contamination of gluten products is the number one issue for people with this diagnosis.  Potatoes, as a rule, do not contain gluten- but slice them on a wooden cutting board that someone previously cut bread on makes this an unsafe food option.  Or frying potatoes in oil that gluten products like chicken tenders have fried make the food unsafe for someone with Celiac Disease.

All stages of life are affected once diagnosed. It is not easy to navigate at any age.  Soy and teriyaki sauce, spice blends, canned soup, some medications and supplements, imitation crab, licorice, and oats would appear gluten free, but they all contain hidden gluten products.  When you have a child, it will affect the formula you give them, the foods you introduce to them as toddlers, the preschool birthday parties you attend, and the lunches served at your elementary school.  A teenager will be limited to fast food stops after high school games and college parties you attend.  Once an adult, the potlucks at work and the dinner parties you get invited to will present other challenges as well.  People with Celiac develop a new social norm which is to always to be prepared, which means lots of planning ahead and preparing your own food for social gatherings. You always err on the side of caution because consuming gluten can affect you physically for days or weeks.

Hope is on the horizon.  Many trials have started to find a solution to the Celiac problem.  There is a biotech company that focuses on eradicating food allergies.  They are developing a safe substitute for gluten products so people at home can make bread, pasta, and pizza without the harmful gluten effects.  Time will tell if this is an option, but the trial stage has proved very promising.  Another company is currently in trials for a medication you take before eating your meals that eliminated cross contamination issues. This drug does not enable people to eat a regular gluten diet, but it would be used in conjunction with a gluten free diet to protect against unintended gluten consumption.  It would be a massive breakthrough for a Celiac diagnosis.  Eating French fries at a restaurant could be in your future!  For the most current information, please visit the Celiac Disease Foundation at Celiac.org. 

Ransomware is getting worse

ransomware stock image

There has been another high-profile ransomware attack and this one could possibly be more significant that the ones before.  

We covered ransomware awhile back, on what it was and how it is a growing threat. You can read that blog here. 

Just last week, Colonial Pipeline, which accounts for 45% of the US East Coast’s fuel, was attacked by ransomware. It took down its systems and forced them to shut down operations.  

https://www.zdnet.com/article/colonial-pipeline-cyberattack-shuts-down-pipeline-that-supplies-45-of-east-coasts-fuel/

Also last week, Scripps Health, a very large hospital network with over 10,000 employees and 7,000 patients, got taken down by a cyberattack.

https://www.10news.com/news/local-news/scripps-health-ceo-addresses-cyberattack-in-an-internal-memo

and

https://healthitsecurity.com/news/scripps-health-ehr-patient-portal-still-down-after-ransomware-attack

both cover that news and the implications they are still dealing with.

In the past year there has been well over $215 million in damages from ransomware attacks around the world.  

With most of the workforce still working from home in 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, its making cyberattacks and ransomware much easier to pull off. Where employees and their PCs were once safely behind the office firewall, are now at makeshift workstations in their home office, bedrooms, or kitchen, using all manner of cobbled-together technologies to get the job done. 

Companies now have a MUCH bigger attack surface. This is due to employees now on all different networks and at various locations. They are no longer working within their organization’s network and covered under its normally secure protection and firewall settings. Some are smart and using a secure VPN connection to stay within their office’s network protection, but most are not. ZDNet has a great article by Danny Palmer on this topic as well.  

If you suspect you or your company has been affected by Ransomware, I am sure your first thought is to shut down or reboot all the computers and server(s) in your office. This is something that you DO NOT want to do. Shutting down or rebooting may lead to restarting a crashed file-encryption process and potential loss of encryption keys stored in the memory.  

Experts instead recommend that victims just hibernate their computer(s) and disconnect it from their network. (Easiest way is to pull out the network cable from the back of it, if it is hardwired to the internet). If you suspect more than one machine is affected, disconnect the office network switch(s), and cut its connection to the internet to keep the infection from spreading further if possible. Once done, it is advised to reach out to a professional IT support firm for further steps. 

Victims should take note that there are two stages of ransomware recovery process they must go through. 

The first is finding the ransomware’s artifacts — such as processes and boot persistence mechanisms — and removing them from an infected host. 

Second is restoring the data if a backup mechanism is available. 

When companies miss or skip the first step, rebooting the computer often restarts the ransomware’s process and ends up encrypting the recently restored files, meaning victims will have to restart the data recovery process from scratch. 

In the case of enterprises, this increases downtime and costs the company operating profits. 

To learn more about dealing with ransomware attacks, you can check out the Emsisoft guide on how to remove ransomware and Coveware’s first response guide on dealing with a ransomware attack. 

Above all please keep up with regular training and remind your employees and co-workers, not to click on any questionable links or download anything that they are not sure of. Stress that if they should ever question something, it is always best to just ask their IT department about it first. While it might create more work to make sure something is legit or safe for you to use, it will tremendously save the company in the long run from massive expenses incurred from getting infected by ransomware. 

Stay safe out there everyone. 

May is Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month.  According to the National Institute of Health, depressive disorder affects 17.3 million Americans.  There are varying levels of depression, some people require therapy and medication.  Others are able to abate symptoms through behavior modification.   Dealing with the stress of the pandemic has exacerbated depression symptoms for many.  Self-care and positive talk are often helpful in moving forward though the day.  

5 Tips for self-help include: 

Exercise – The reason exercise is helpful to treat depression is that the chemical endorphins are released with activity.  A short brisk walk several times a week may help. 

Avoiding sugar – Eating foods with folic acid and omega -3 fatty acids may ease symptoms.  Add some avocado to your salad for a boost.  

Set objectives daily – Consider things like making your bed, going for a walk or calling a friend in objective setting. 

Be kind to yourself – Positive self-talk can help.  Congratulate yourself on small victories.  For example, compliment yourself on completing a task that you were putting off.  

Mindfulness – Mindfulness is a form of meditation where you quiet your mind to focus on the present.  Take one day at a time.  

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health reach out to the Crisis Text Line.  Text Hello to 741741.  The line services anyone in any type of crisis.