Huntington Memorial Hospital announced today the formation of an Institute for Nursing Excellence and Innovation, designed to further enhance training and preparation of Huntington Hospital’s nursing workforce. Concurrent with the institute’s creation, the hospital has announced a $1 million leadership gift from Hospital Board Chairman Jim Rothenberg and his wife Anne to help launch the initiative.
“We are so grateful to Jim and Anne for their vision and leadership in this and so many other areas,” said Hospital President and CEO Stephen A. Ralph. “Jim’s generosity will help jump-start our institute and help make sure that patients at Huntington Hospital are cared for by a nursing staff that is fully prepared to respond to the myriad of medical challenges and personal responsibilities they face.”
Last year Huntington Hospital became one of only 6 percent of hospitals in the United States to achieve Magnet recognition – the “gold standard” for nursing, which recognizes outstanding patient care, overall nursing excellence and innovation in nursing practice. The new Institute for Nursing Excellence and Innovation will build upon that foundation and, according to Ralph, help assure that nurses remain “the very heart of patient care at Huntington Hospital and an essential part of the hospital’s mission of medical excellence.”
While still in a development stage, some components of the institute are already clear. One is the establishment of a Nurses Scholars Program – a second generation of a program that has been met with great success at the hospital. Here, new nurses or nurses just joining the Huntington team are matched with seasoned members of Huntington Hospital’s nursing team who provide one-on-one mentoring, counsel and support. In addition to preceptors for new nursing graduates, the institute will offer specialty training programs in critical care, emergency medicine, obstetrics, neonatal intensive care, surgery, pediatric intensive care and other areas.
Through the institute the hospital will also expand its nursing education offerings in order to increase the number of nurses with degrees and with specialty certification in their fields. In particular, the hospital will launch an on-site Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program in collaboration with Western Governor’s University. Nursing education will also be supported through encouraging – and through the Institute helping to fund – individual nurses to take part in projects that result in presenting and speaking at national conferences.
The institute will support the continued growth of nursing research at Huntington Hospital through the funding of a doctoral-prepared nurse researcher and a nursing research fellowship. Toward that end three nursing research studies are already underway. In the first study Huntington Hospital was one of 15 hospitals nationally to be part of a research collaborative related to quality and safety in the hospital environment. The second study involves the impact on medication errors, and the third was a pilot study to validate “concern” as a predictor of patient risk for decline.
“The nursing institute at Huntington Hospital is a key part of our hospital’s Magnet sustainability plan, which calls for developing and supporting a solid infrastructure to produce advances in nursing innovation, evidence-based practice and nursing research,” said Bonnie Kass, R.N., vice president of patient services. “Building this institute will have a truly transformative impact – at the hospital and more broadly – and will hopefully serve as a model for other hospitals at a time of increased emphasis on healthcare quality and cost efficiency.”
The creation of the institute could not have come at a better time as the role and responsibilities for nurses continue to evolve. Currently the nation faces a shortage of primary care physicians; and with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act adding more than 30 million additional insured Americans into the system, it is estimated that by 2020 the United States will face a shortage of 40,000 primary care doctors. One remedy to this shortage will be nurses who will be asked to do more and bring additional skills to the patient care environment.
“Today’s hospital is a technologically advanced and rapidly changing place,” said Kass. “By equipping nurses with the skills and tools they need to do their jobs better, we can enhance patient outcomes, reduce healthcare costs and expand the nursing profession in ways that will serve our community now and in the future.”