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Phelps Memorial Hospital Center Nurses Mobilize to Improve Care for Elderly Patients
(October 5, 2012) Because people are living longer, the number of elderly hospital patients is on the rise and they often have serious illnesses and special needs. To address the growing demand for geriatric nursing care, a team of nurses at Phelps Memorial Hospital Center is introducing a program to improve healthcare for older adults. The program, Nurses Improving Care for Health System Elders (NICHE), was developed by the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University College of Nursing.
The Phelps nursing leadership team for NICHE includes Cheryl Burke, RN, clinical specialist and NICHE program coordinator; Kathy Pappas, RN, Phelps and NICHE clinical educator; Paula Keenan, RN, nursing director and NICHE program administrator; Maria Magno, RN, and Ronda Osborn Haroon, RN, coordinators from the medical unit; and Alicia Mulvena, RN, clinical educator and NICHE evidence-based practice coordinator. These nurses are learning new ways to deal with such common problems as falls, incontinence, pain and wound care. Sharing their knowledge with the rest of the hospital will bring about change in the way care is provided to the elderly.
The goals of NICHE are to increase sensitivity of hospital staff to the aging process, improve the recognition of age-related changes in older adult patients, enhance communication skills with patients and their families, and ensure mental and physical stimulation for patients while they are in the hospital.
“Anytime we can improve the outcomes for our elders,” says Cheryl Burke, “we are improving the lives of the patient’s families and hospital staff.”
The program will be expanded throughout the hospital in phases. The nursing leaders have completed their initial NICHE training and will soon begin training the staff who will be participating in the first phase. The program will begin in one unit and eventually be brought to the remainder of the hospital, including the Emergency Department.