The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) today announced three of its hospitals have been designated as Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) facilities, “senior-friendly” hospitals designed to meet the special needs of hospitalized elder adults. HHC also announced that another four public hospitals will begin the intensive path toward NICHE designation this month.
With support from a grant by The Fan Fox and Leslie R Samuels Foundation, HHC has partnered with the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing and the New York University College of Nursing to adopt NICHE standards and the nationally recognized training program designed to bring the most current knowledge and skills in geriatric patient care to bedside nurses and hospital staff. Nearly 100 HHC nurses have already completed the training and 140 others will begin the program this Fall to strengthen their skills and expertise and help improve the health status of New Yorkers 65 years of age and older.
HHC’s Harlem Hospital Center, North Central Bronx Hospital and Queens Hospital Center this year achieved the NICHE “senior-friendly” hospital certification and have adopted age-sensitive, patient-centered best practices in elderly care. HHC’s Jacobi, Lincoln, Elmhurst and Coney Island hospitals will begin the required nurse leadership training this Fall. Nearly 20 percent of patients hospitalized at HHC facilities across the city are people 65 years or older.
“With the explosive growth of baby boomers that is expected to challenge the healthcare system, our work to improve geriatric nursing competence is more important than ever before,” said HHC President Alan D. Aviles. “Our goal is to have a well trained workforce to deliver optimal care to improve the health, well-being and care experience of seniors in our hospitals, reduce their readmission rates, and improve their capacity to live independently for as long as possible.”
“In recognition of the expected growth of the senior population and the increasing longevity of the general population, the City established Age-friendly NYC, a set of 59 citywide initiatives involving all City agencies to transform New York into a city that maximizes the health and active participation of New Yorkers of every age,” said Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging. “Hospitalization can be a frightening experience, and it is wonderful news that HHC and NICHE are taking this proactive approach to geriatric patient care.”
Some of those best practices adopted by nurses in senior-friendly hospitals address common issues among the elderly, including:
· Many seniors take medicines prescribed by multiple prescribers and reviewing medication lists is an important part of the geriatric nurses’ role;
· Making sure that seniors admitted to the hospital receive their daily medications on schedule even as they receive other tests or treatments in the hospital;
· Paying special attention to nighttime lighting for patients who are ambulatory but have vision loss;
· Establishing an open line of communication with family caregivers and providing them with the information and education they need to care for elderly patients at home;
· Ensuring elderly patients understand and can follow instructions for care that are established in their discharge plan.
“A hospitalization can be a defining event in a senior’s life. It can either improve quality of life or can result in irreversible complications. The NICHE certification means HHC has senior-friendly processes in place and the proper resources to address common and serious issues among hospitalized older adults — medication use, community care options, dementia, falls and vision loss, self-care for family caregivers, discharge planning, and much more,” said Lauren Johnston, R.N., HHC Chief Nurse Executive and Senior Assistant Vice President of the Office of Patient Center Care.
As NICHE hospitals, HHC facilities will build a cadre of specially trained nursing professionals who will help guide elder care at the hospitals and also help extend their knowledge across interdisciplinary care teams. Approximately 240 HHC nurses will receive the “Intro to Gerontology” course curriculum, 120 will become Geriatric Resource Nurses who will mentor and influence 1200 others, 40 RNs are expected to become certified Geriatric Specialists, and a dozen senior nurses will participate in the NICHE Leadership Training Program.
“Our ultimate goal is to provide safe and quality care for seniors and achieve high patient, family and staff satisfaction,” added Lauren Johnston.
Photo ID: (L to R) Mathy Mezey, Ed.D, RN, of The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing, New York University School of Nursing; Alan D. Aviles, HHC President; Yvonne Reynolds, RN, and Laureen Goodridge, RN, Chief Nurse, both of Harlem Hospital.