Advocacy for Patients - Celia McIntosh ’11, ’15

June 30, 2020

In acknowledgment of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, Collegium is highlighting alumni who, in their own unique ways, embody what it means to be a “Fisher Nurse.” In this installment, meet Celia McIntosh ’11, ’15

Celia McIntosh

While working as a nurse practitioner in the neurology department at Rochester Regional Health (RRH), Celia McIntosh ’11 (FNP), ’15 (DNP) was called to a stroke alert one day. The patient could not articulate himself and, according to his wife, was displaying symptoms of suicidal thoughts and depression after suffering a stroke six weeks earlier.

“Everything she was describing was depression, but at that time, we didn’t screen for depression in our patients,” McIntosh said. “I started looking at the literature, and found that one third of stroke survivors have depression, but it’s often untreated because it’s unrecognized.”

At the time of that patient visit, McIntosh was pursuing a doctorate in nursing practice at the School of Nursing, which she knew would give her the opportunity to do groundbreaking work with stroke patients and depression. Her clinical scholarship project focused on the development and implementation of depression screening and treatment protocols at stroke centers, so that any patient whose CT scan or MRI was positive for a stroke would be screened. Nurses would then work with patients to provide an educational booklet on stroke and depression, and discuss possible treatment options with the patient.

The screening protocol that McIntosh developed was embedded into RRH’s electronic medical records, allowing practitioners systemwide to use the tool when working with stroke patients. Since its implementation, McIntosh has given multiple regional, national, and international talks on the screening protocol, and published an article in the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing.

Advocacy for patients is a theme throughout McIntosh’s career. When walking into work about six years ago, she engaged in conversation with representatives from Rochester Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking (RRCAHT), who had set up a table with educational materials. As she learned more about the organization, she felt a strong pull to involve herself in the work.

Today, she serves as president of RRCAHT, working to increase its presence in the Rochester community.

Through her leadership, RRCAHT has implemented a “Yes, Here” campaign, highlighting the occurrence of human trafficking in the Rochester region. Campaign messaging included bus graphics, digital monitors in the Regional Transit Service (RTS) Transit Center, and posters highlighting community-wide labor-, domestic-, sex-, and child-trafficking incidences. McIntosh also has used her medical training to develop educational programs for health care professionals regarding the role of providers in assisting victims of human trafficking.

During her time with the organization, she earned two certificates from Fisher, one as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and the other in nonprofit management. These certifications have helped her tease out the root causes of issues while also taking the 50-foot view and sharpened her ability to make connections between health care and advocacy work.

“Advocacy is what led me to become a nurse,” she said. “And that goal has translated into everything I have done.”