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Upstate earns NICHE designation

Upstate earns NICHE designation

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- Upstate University Hospital's commitment to providing quality care to older adult patients has earned it a designation as a NICHE facility. That stands for Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders. The designation applies to Upstate’s Downtown and Community campuses.

NICHE designation allows its 400 member hospitals and healthcare facilities to participate in leadership and training programs and to use resources, tools and evidence-based strategies to enhance the care of older hospitalized adults. It also allows member hospitals to join a communications network with nurses nationwide who are trained in understanding the special needs of older hospitalized adults.

According to Sharon Klaiber, of Upstate’s Nursing Administration, Upstate’s designation was based in part on its use of NICHE’s Geriatric Resource Nurse (GRN) model.

“Upstate has three NICHE-trained geriatric resource nurses who have completed a six-week, web-based leadership training program,” said Klaiber. “These specially trained nurses serve as a resource for staff nurses who may need assistance in identifying or addressing a specific concern about their patient. The perspectives of our geriatric resource nurses offer greater insight into the unique needs of older hospitalized adults. This specialized knowledge and expertise can only result in enhanced care.”

Mary M. Johnson, a geriatric resource nurse at Upstate, says Upstate’s GRNs work closely with staff from Upstate’s Geriatrics program and the ACE (Acute Care for the Elderly) team to provide comprehensive and patient-centered care for older adults.

She and Upstate’s NICHE Steering Committee are in the midst of a campaign to recruit more geriatric resource nurses at Upstate.

“Our goal is to enlist two to three nurses per unit, who have a special interest in the care of the geriatric patient, to become certified by NICHE as a geriatric resource nurse,” Johnson said.

Johnson says that the NICHE accreditation was also based in part on an action plan developed by Upstate’s NICHE Steering Committee that includes steps to help further NICHE’s mission of incorporating systematic nursing change that will benefit hospitalized older patients.

Part of the plan is to survey Upstate's nursing staff on their perceptions of the care that Upstate provides older adult patients. "We are considering additional surveys in 2013 to LPNs, hospital attendants (HAs), outpatient RNs, and other departments providing care to older adults," Johnson said.

The survey also serves as a tool to assess the hospital’s readiness to implement geriatric programs and to measure a nurse’s knowledge and attitude toward older adults. The results of the survey will be benchmarked against other NICHE member hospitals and healthcare facilities to assist in prioritizing educational and clinical initiatives.

In addition to the Upstate’s NICHE designation, its Geriatrics Program and the ACE program, other current and upcoming services for older adults at Upstate include:

  • The Sharon A. Brangman, MD, Endowed Professorship in Geriatric Medicine
  • Outpatient medical care and geriatric assessment at the geriatrics office located at 550 Harrison;
  • The CNY Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Center
  • Vitality! Fitness Program; and
  • OASIS learning program for older adults.