The fact that the first Baby Boomers turned 65 this year has been hard to miss. And with 10,000 people turning 65 every day for the next 19 years, the impact this generation will have on our healthcare system has been described as nothing short of apocalyptic. As the 1964 Bob Dylan song reminds us, “the times they are a-changin’.”
And VNASC is changing with them. From transitional care to home-based chronic care, Nurse-Managed Wellness to maternal and child health, we’ve been working hard to provide the best possible outcomes for our patients and our community by using evidence-based methods with proven track records.
A recent article in the New York Times lamented that fact that care transitions – times when patients are discharged and go home, for example – are risky, most often because of breakdowns in communication. In fact, one of the most common errors is that essential medications inadvertently get stopped. In order to reduce these errors and prevent re-hospitalization, we recently hired our first Transitions Care Nurse, who you will read about later in this report. Remarkably enough, studies show that simple strategies, like providing a pill organizer, keeping a written record of all medications and dosages, and making sure patients have a follow-up appointment scheduled before they leave the hospital are tremendously effective in making transitions smooth, and limiting re-hospitalizations.
With all of the sophisticated medical technology available to us these days, it is sometimes easy to forget that simple solutions can sometimes have a major impact. Writing down which medications we take and understanding why we take them, using a pillbox, making a checklist, washing our hands, administering the Mini-Cog – these are not difficult to do, and there is certainly nothing high-tech about them, yet they make a huge difference in whether or not a patient thrives at home.
And it is all about coming – and staying – home. We all want to live as independently as we can for as long as we can, making our own choices and experiencing all that life has to offer. Dylan said of his anthem: “I didn’t mean (it) as a statement . . . it’s a feeling.” And that’s what it comes down to – feeling empowered, feeling well, being home.
Mary L. Lenzini, BSN, MA, CHCE