Nurse Profile: Lisa Ayers
A Public Health Nurse in Schenectady, New York, Making Neighborhoods Healthier
Lisa Ayers, BSN, RN, could tell from her initial inspection of the apartment, with its chipped paint, exposed electrical wires, and mice, that the situation was serious. As a public health nurse with Schenectady County Public Health Services near Albany, New York, she also quickly discerned that the deteriorating structure was not the only issue in need of her attention.
Ms. Ayers’ patient, a pregnant woman whose toddlers had high blood lead levels, learned about the link between asthma and cigarette smoke, the dangers of a broken electrical plate, and the importance of testing her smoke detectors. Ms. Ayers also talked with the woman about prenatal care, scheduled a lead inspection of the home, reported the mice and electrical hazards to the city, and mailed a notice of the lead inspection to the landlord.
“It was a wonderful visit,” Ms. Ayers said. “Very productive.” A lifelong Schenectady native, she and her husband have reared three children there, and she has worked for 22 years as a public health nurse for the city and county health departments. She started out, as most nurses do, as a medical–surgical nurse, but after switching to home health care, she found it difficult to balance work and
family demands and applied for a public health nursing position with the city. “It was the best decision I ever made,” she said.
When she started in 1988, she and her 20 registered nurse (RN) coworkers cared for homebound older adults, pregnant women and infants, and patients with infectious diseases. In 1991 the health department expanded to cover the county, and her work in the years since has encompassed well-infant care, primary care pediatrics, and environmental health.