Parkland Diabetes Nurse HEROes up their skills, improve patient care

Parkland Diabetes Nurse HEROes up their skills, improve patient care

Program provides in-depth training in diabetes management and patient education

A hospital-wide initiative was launched in March at Parkland Health & Hospital System to upskill nurses in best practice diabetes care and education. Parkland averages more than 250 patients with diabetes per day in the inpatient environment. The Diabetes Nurse HERO program is expected to improve the quality of diabetes inpatient care by building the knowledge and skill level of hospital nurses. In addition, patients will benefit from better education about their condition and more effective and safe discharge planning.

A monthly curriculum has been developed by a multidisciplinary planning committee, with one 8-hour training day each month for participants. The schedule includes training by Parkland diabetes experts and guest speakers on topics including nutrition, blood glucose monitoring, insulin management, discharge planning and psychosocial issues. Hospital unit-based audits and outcome measures have been created to measure and assure the effectiveness of the training program.

“Nearly 35 percent of patients on any given day at Parkland Memorial Hospital have been diagnosed with diabetes or hyperglycemia, both of which are associated with adverse outcomes for patients. The goal of the Diabetes Nurse HERO program is to prevent complications by strengthening the skills of our unit-based nurses in diabetes management and education,” said Kellie Rodriguez, MSN, MBA, CDE, Director of Parkland’s Global Diabetes Program.

National data indicates that hospitals should promote the shortest, safest hospital stay and provide an effective transition from the hospital in order to ensure better patients outcomes and avoid acute complications and readmission of diabetes patients. Trained nurse specialists or specialty nursing teams have been shown to reduce the length of hospital stay, improve glycemic control and improve patient outcomes, Rodriguez said.

“With more than 30,000 patients in the Parkland system diagnosed with diabetes, this population is a key focus for us,” said Karen Watts, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Executive Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer. “The Parkland Diabetes Nurse HERO program will strengthen our ability to provide a more robust, proactive nurse education framework, with the future aspiration of achieving a Joint Commission Certificate of Distinction for Inpatient Diabetes Care.”

The Joint Commission and the American Diabetes Association have identified the most successful inpatient diabetes programs as those possessing several clinical attributes, including:
o Specific staff education requirements
o Written blood glucose monitoring protocols
o Plans for the treatment of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia
o Data collection of incidences of hypoglycemia
o Patient education on self-management of diabetes
o An identified program champion or program champion team

National Nurses Week, celebrated May 6-12 each year, is a reminder and celebration of the vital role of nurses in patient care, a point emphasized by Jonathan Abalos, RN, BSN, one of the 37 Parkland nurses currently enrolled in the voluntary Diabetes HERO program,

“I’ve always found things about nursing that inspire me to improve,” Abalos said. “When I heard about the Diabetes HERO program I wanted to be involved. This program will enable me and other nurses to make a big difference in our patients’ lives. We’ll be better prepared to coach patients during their hospital stay about how to manage their disease so they can lead a better life and avoid complications and readmissions.”

“I’m excited about bringing this education back to my unit to share with other nurses,” said Michal LoSasso, RN, BSN, another Diabetes Nurse HERO. “In each session, we get in-depth training about a key aspect of diabetes management, knowledge we share with other nurses on our units. We can make a difference by teaching our patients before discharge how to take better care of themselves when they leave the hospital.”

“Diabetes is the most urgent health problem facing our community, with more than 11 percent of Dallas County residents diagnosed with this serious health condition,” said Luigi Meneghini, MD, MBA, Executive Director of the Global Diabetes Program at Parkland and Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “For the thousands of Parkland patients diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, effective disease management is crucial. We are convinced the Diabetes Nurse HERO program will have a positive impact on the well-being of our patients.”

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