A team of eight nurses at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery has become the first group to complete special training in the care of the frail elderly.
At a recent graduation celebration, they all said they chose the work for the same reason: They love caring for the elderly.
“They have such good stories and advice, and they really enjoy life,” said Katrina Collins, one of the newly designated Geriatric Resource Nurses. “They could look at being ill and hospitalized as the worst thing, but they have such a great outlook.”
Collins and the other nurses received 30 hours of specialized training as part of Einstein Montgomery’s designation as a NICHE Hospital—Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders. It represents the hospital’s commitment to elder care excellence, according to Monica Nash, NICHE coordinator and director of Medical/Surgical Nursing, and Kim Mikula, Knowledge Center Administrator.
The Geriatric Resource Nurses will be stationed throughout the hospital to serve as resources and provide assistance to other caregivers with questions about elderly patients. They’ll be supported by an interdisciplinary team, which includes a physician, pharmacy representative, physical therapist, occupational therapist, case manager, social worker, chaplain and palliative care representative.
“I love taking care of elderly patients; I get so much from them."
—Mary Schwengler, a nurse on the telemetry unit
Einstein Montgomery’s Chief Operating Officer Beth Duffy expressed satisfaction that patients at both ends of the life cycle are the focus of special care at Einstein Montgomery.
“We talk about how we care for frail patients in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and we’re also focused on the other side of the continuum, the frail elderly,” she said. Patients older than 65 account for nearly 70 percent of the patient population at Einstein Montgomery.
AnnMarie Papa, vice president and chief nursing officer, commended the program as “another step in a ladder as we build nursing excellence and organizational success.
“Several of the graduates said the training particularly helped them focus on the fact that geriatric patients react differently to medication and to be extra vigilant about prescribing the appropriate medicine in the appropriate dose—or to avoid it altogether.
“I learned about how to comfort the elderly when they’re confused,” said Jennifer Powell, a charge nurse in the emergency department. “You talk to them, compliment them, make them feel safe—before you go to medication.” Powell said she’s wanted to work with the elderly ever since she volunteered at a nursing home when she was 15. “The elderly are so appreciative of whatever we do,” she said.
Scott Denny said his inspiration came from living with his grandmother. “We were close and I learned about taking care of the frail elderly,” said Denny, a staff nurse on the medical/surgical unit. “She spent half of her life taking care of me. When the time came, I helped take care of her.”
Mary Schwengler, a nurse on the telemetry unit, epitomized the feelings of all of the graduates when she said: “I love taking care of elderly patients; I get so much from them.”
Here are some photos from the event: