Patricia Scatliffe-Richards, RN
Patricia Scatliffe-Richards, RN
Staff Nurse, Behavioral Health
NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Gouverneur
Personal experiences as a child inspired Patricia Scatliffe-Richards to become a nurse “As a child I was frequently in the ER for asthma and I was impressed by the nursing care I received; they were professional and were well-respected and that’s when I decided I wanted to be like them,” she recalls, jokingly adding, “Plus, their caps were cute!”
Scatliffe-Richards embarked upon a 39-year nursing career, spending 38 years with NYC Health + Hospitals. She currently serves as a Staff Nurse, Behavioral Health for NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham, Gouverneur, where she prides herself on being a “good listener, compassionate, and having a great sense of humor.
“I treat each person as an individual with compassion and respect,” she continues. “I want patients to know that they are being heard and I will do my best to provide the help that they need. Respect is my personal philosophy in nursing. No matter what your ethnicity, cultural background, or sexual orientation, everyone wants to be respected.”
Respect translates into a desire to address health inequities: “We serve a very diverse population at Gouverneur, and there are great disparities in health care,” she explains. “As African Americans, we are known to have the highest rates of heart disease, diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and maternal/pregnancy-related deaths, higher than any other race. This is alarming. One way to combat this is to empower patients with knowledge about their illnesses and teach them how to advocate for themselves. EVERYONE deserves equitable health care.”
“During my interactions with patients, I was surprised to learn many medical issues were not being addressed because patients forgot them during their PCP (primary care) visits,” she continues. “So I began encouraging patients to keep a log and write down three main issues to discuss with their PCP at the very start of the visit. Patients reported positive feedback when using this method.”
Scatliffe-Richards also serves on the Diversity-Equity-Inclusion committee, Behavioral Health Anti-Racism committee and on the African American and Caribbean American Inclusion group working to promote health equity and “provide education to my peers.”
The ongoing pandemic has taken a toll on many patients, Scatliffe-Richards notes, especially when it comes to behavioral and mental health issues. “The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized to me as a behavioral health nurse that we are all susceptible to mental health issues,” she comments. “Mental illness does not always present as a person being violent, as society portrays. Mental health is the inability to cope with daily or unexpected events such as COVID. The pandemic caused many individuals to cross the line of capable to incapable.”
Nursing is continuing to adopt new strategies and new technologies in order to better meet patients’ needs, according to Scatliffe-Richards. “Using computers aids in gathering data for statistical purposes, which in turn provides guidance to promote better care,” she explains. “I have learned to use the data as a way to initiate dialogue during my patient interactions.
“My best moments are when I see marked improvement, for example, after a patient receives the proper medication regimen,” she adds. “It’s like seeing a brand new person!”