Grant gives nurses a helping hand

A $20,000 check was presented to the Central Coast Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice. From left to right, Assemblymember Simon Salinas, Carol Snow, RN, VNA and Hospice President, Victory Arranaga Jr., Director, External Affairs, SBC Pacific Bell, and

A new technology that will help home health care nurses perform
their duties better has come to Hollister through a competitive
technology grant awarded by the SBC Foundation.
The Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of SBC
Communications Inc., awarded $9 million to nonprofit organizations
throughout their 13-state region through the SBC Excelerator grant
program.
A new technology that will help home health care nurses perform their duties better has come to Hollister through a competitive technology grant awarded by the SBC Foundation.

The Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of SBC Communications Inc., awarded $9 million to nonprofit organizations throughout their 13-state region through the SBC Excelerator grant program.

The Central Coast Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) and Hospice, expressly the Hollister chapter, received $20,000 from the grant to purchase “point of care” devices for nurses in the field, said Margie McCurry, director of development and communications for VNA and Hospice of the Central Coast.

“They’re called point of care because the nurses are able to get patient information at the point of where they give the care,” McCurry said, “which is in the home.”

The Central Coast’s VNA is the largest and oldest home health care agency in the region, with its skilled nurses visiting more than 76,000 homes every year, McCurry said.

For the past 53 years, the nurses have been carrying around burdensome paper field charts with all of their patient’s pertinent medical information on them, she said. The new point of care devices are small, computerized tools that the nurses and clinicians can use to instantly retrieve information from the VNA’s main database.

They are about half the size of a laptop, are long and narrow and are much more portable, McCurry said.

“It has greatly improved the system for the patients and for us,” she said. “It’s technology and it’s the way of the future.”

Because the government mandates that a certain amount of paperwork must be completed for every patient, before the devices were introduced, each nurse was spending about 48 minutes of paperwork for every 60 minutes he/she spent with a patient.

The new devices cut that time about in half, McCurry said.

“It has a touch screen, so the nurses just press ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and it flips right to the next (question). It’s so much quicker,” she said.

The devices are popular on the East Coast, but are limited in their use in California. Some organizations in the Los Angeles area are using them now, but VNA Hollister is the only organization on the Central Coast utilizing them, McCurry said.

“It’s a cool piece of equipment, and we’re very excited to get to use it,” she said.

VNA applied for the grant in September, the money was allocated that same month and the devices arrived in October.

The actual check was presented in November at the San Juan Oaks Philanthropy Day. Assemblymember Simon Salinas (D-Salinas), attended the ceremony and congratulated the organization.

“I commend the Central Coast Visiting Nurses Association for their efforts to improve the quality of home health care throughout our community,” Salinas said. “By creating a real-time patient database, VNA is effectively utilizing technology to better serve patients across the Central Coast.”

The grant enabled VNA to purchase four devices, being that the device and the training each nurse or clinician must go through to become proficient with them totals about $5,000.

Currently there are two nurses and one physical therapist within VNA who are proficient with the devices, said VNA and Hospice President Carol Snow. She anticipates it will take three to four months for a trainee to be able to use the device efficiently.

“The system and the software are very complex,” Snow said. “We hope to have all the clinicians, nurses, and physical and occupational therapists up and running by mid-year 2004.”

The devices are a move by the organization to become more technology-minded, as well as being able to take better care of their patients because the clinicians and nurses are spending less time on their paperwork, Snow said.

The organization plans on purchasing more when they have the funds.

“Anyone who wants to give us $5,000 so we can buy more would be nice,” McCurry said.

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