Visits from specially trained nurses help patients heal and families feel more comfortable following heart surgery.
A Doylestown Hospital program that improves patient satisfaction and reduces hospital readmissions and complications after major heart surgery was recognized with a prestigious "Excellence in Care Achievement Award" from the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP).
Doylestown Health's Cardiothoracic Transitional Care Nurse program begins in the hospital where a nurse who is certified in critical care visits patients with the cardiothoracic surgeon after surgery, gains intimate knowledge of the patient, procedure and treatment, and then visits and cares for the patient at home after discharge for as many times as necessary. The Doylestown Hospital program focuses on patients who have open heart, bypass or TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) procedures.
"The reassurance of a familiar face in the hospital and at home is a great comfort to both the patient and family, and contributes significantly to quality outcomes and patient experience," said Eleanor Wilson, RN, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Doylestown Health. "The program is so effective that the nurse typically visits the home only two or three times before the patient and family are completely confident and comfortable with the patient's recovery, and the incidence of readmission is about half of national averages."
Two certified nurses – Patti Banis, CCRN and Carol Uccelletti, CCRN – and a nurse manager – Ronna Bell, RN – are responsible for the program at the hospital's Richard A. Reif Heart Institute. In addition to meeting with the patient and family during the hospital stay, they offer direct cell phone contact with the patient and family at any time.
Patti said her role as Transitional Care Nurse involves a lot of "reassurance, teaching and cheerleading." By visiting patients in their homes, she realized they are often scared and unsure of their recovery. After one or two visits from the Transitional Care Nurse, "I can see a relief. They begin to think, 'I can do this'," said Patti.
The program differs from general visiting nurses as the pair have cardiovascular intensive care unit experience and focus solely on patients of cardiothoracic surgeons Drs. Joseph Auteri and James McClurken. Patti and Carol are often in communication with the surgeons and Physician Assistants, saying it's "definitely a team approach."
"The direct link between nurse-and-patient and nurse-and-surgeon in both care settings provides deep insight to the individual needs of a patient that a generalist visiting nurse might not have," added Wilson. "We're honored to be recognized for this innovation and proud of the quality outcomes the nurses provide."
Fourteen award recipients were selected from 127 total award submissions, and were chosen for their exceptional work and innovation in community health projects, quality improvement efforts, and operational efficiencies.
Entries were evaluated by a 16-judge panel. The panelists, drawn from Pennsylvania and across the nation, represented the public and private sectors, business organizations, consumer groups and renowned health care quality institutes.
About Doylestown Health
Doylestown Health is a comprehensive healthcare system of inpatient, outpatient and wellness education services connected to meet the health needs of all members of the local and regional community. Doylestown Hospital, the flagship to Doylestown Health has 239 beds and a Medical Staff of more than 435 physicians in over 50 specialties. An independent nonprofit health system, Doylestown Health is dedicated to providing innovative, patient-centered care for all ages.