Brown bag luncheons keep staff informal

Sharing food and feedback

How many times do you have 10 people sign up for a seminar when your agency can only afford to send two people?

If this is a problem for your agency, then the Hospice of Reno County in Hutchinson, KS, has the answer for you: Require staff who attend seminars to share their knowledge with everyone else when they return. "Those who have been to any type of meetings in the past month will present information on the topics they’ve attended," says Marsha McConnell, RN, BSN, director of administrative services for the agency, which serves a 30-mile radius in south-central Kansas.

Nurses, home health aides, and others have given lectures so far at a monthly brown bag luncheon for staff. The luncheon environment creates an informal and comfortable environment, McConnell says.

The lecture usually lasts about 10 to 15 minutes, although some have lasted longer when employees chose to use videos, demonstrations, and handouts during their presentations, says Sheila Richmeier, RNC, BSN, director of clinical services. "They really have done very well. It gives everyone a chance to know what other people are doing and learning, and we all learn together."

A variety of topics

So far, topics have included fractures in the elderly, cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, case management, bereavement counseling, sound care, breast-feeding, chronic illnesses, and other topics. One month, four home health aides jointly presented a lecture on home health caring.

Sometimes the employees are eager and organized with their lectures. The wound care talk, for example, included samples of dressing changes and wound care kits, Richmeier says.

And the luncheons are growing in popularity. Although only a small group of people showed up when they began, now about 20 people will join in the luncheon chat, Richmeier adds.

"There is a lot of feedback too," she says. "We get some pretty good discussions and question-and-answer sessions going."

March 1-31:

Eye Donor Month. More than 92,000 corneal tissue donations were made in 1996, giving the gift of sight. This month was created to educate the public about the importance of eye and corneal tissue donation. Contact: Eye Bank Association of America, 1001 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 601, Washington, DC 20036-5304. Telephone: (202) 775-4999.

March 1-31:

Workplace Eye Health and Safety. Prevent Blindness America has a workplace safety program called The Wise Owl Club that has information on how to make your work environment safer for the eyes. Contact: Prevent Blindness America, 500 East Remington Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173. Telephone: (800) 331-2020.

March 1-17:

Shamrocks Against Dystrophy for Muscular Dystrophy Association. A St. Patrick’s Day fund-raiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association is held by restaurants, bars, retailers, and other businesses nationwide. Patrons buy shamrock mobiles for $1 or $5 or more and then write their names on them and display them at their businesses. Materials are provided free by the MDA. Contact your local MDA office or Muscular Dystrophy Association, 3300 East Sunrise Drive, Tucson, AZ 85718-3208. Telephone: (520) 529-2000, ext. 5316. Fax: (520) 529-5300.

March 3:

C. Everett Koop Health Advocate Award. This is the deadline for nominations for an award that was established to recognize the importance of communication to improve the quality of health and the understanding of health issues. The Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development has information and nomination forms. Contact: Society Staff at (312) 422-3888, or e-mail the Society at

March 15-21:

Children and Healthcare Week. This international public awareness campaign focuses on the needs of children and families in health care settings. A complete planning guide is available for $10. Contact: Association for the Care of Children’s Health, 7910 Woodmont Ave., Suite 300, Bethesda, MD 20814. Telephone: (609) 224-1742.

March 16-22:

Brain Awareness Week. Brain Awareness Week is a national public information campaign created by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives to unite scientific institutions, educational organizations, and patient-outreach groups in an effort to promote brain research. Special events, programs are held. Contact: Brain Awareness Week, Information Clearinghouse, Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives at (301) 657-9197; fax: (301) 907-0990; or e-mail:

April 1-30:

National Humor Month. This month, celebrating its 22nd year, focuses on the therapeutic value and need for humor in health care. The founder is motivational humorist Larry Wolde. Contact: The Carmel Institute of Humor, 25470 Canada Drive, Carmel, CA 93923. Telephone: (408) 624-3058.

April 1-30:

National Occupational Therapy Month. The American Occupational Therapy Association sponsors this month to promote public awareness of the services occupational therapists offer. During the month there will be a national, toll-free hotline from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, at (800) 60T-TALK or (800) 668-8255. Contact: American Occupational Therapy Association, 4720 Montgomery Lane, P.O. Box 31220, Bethesda, MD 20814.

April 2:

Cancer Fatigue Awareness Day. Fatigue is a commonly reported side effect of cancer therapy. The Oncology Nursing Society is trying to promote ways to assist people experiencing this fatigue through education about treatments. Contact: Oncology Nursing Society, 501 Holiday Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15220. Telephone: (412) 921-7373.

April 5-11:

International Building Safety Week. The week promotes state and local governments’ efforts to ensure public safety in all buildings. It’s sponsored by the National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards and the Model Code Writing Organizations. Contact: The National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards, 505 Huntmar Park Drive, Suite 210, Herndon, VA 20170. Telephone: (703) 437-0100. Fax: (703) 481-3596. Web site:

April 7:

World Health Day. Originated by the World Health Organization, the day’s 1998 theme is a focus on "Safe Motherhood." Contact: World Health Day, American Association for World Health, 1825 K Street, NW, Suite 1208, Washington, DC 20006. Telephone: (202) 466-5883. Fax: (202) 466-5896. E-mail:

April 12-18:

National Medical Laboratory Week. The week recognizes medical laboratory personnel, including laboratory directors, managers, supervisors, medical technologies, medial laboratory technicians, histotechnologists, cytotechnologists, and phlebotomists. Contact: American Society of Clinical Pathologists, 2100 West Harrison St., Chicago, IL 60612. Telephone: NMLW recorded Hot Line at (312) 738-1336, ext. 179.

April 19-25:

National Volunteer Week. This week honors outstanding volunteers with special service project activities. Contact: Customer Information Center, The Points of Light Foundation, 1737 H St., NW, Washington, DC 20006. Telephone: (202) 223-9186, ext. 209.

April 19-25:

National Healthcare Administrative Support Staff Week. This week runs concurrently with National Secretaries Day. Contact: Health Care Executive Assistants, American Hospital Association, One North Franklin, Chicago, IL 60606. Telephone: (312) 422-3860. Fax: (312) 422-4572.

This calendar listing is provided courtesy of the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development of the American Hospital Association. The organization, located at One North Franklin, 31st Floor, Chicago, IL 60606, sells an 89-page, "Health Observances & Recognition Days" calendar (Catalog No. C-166858) for $15 for AHA members and $20 for nonmembers. Call (800) 242-2626 for more information.