Mitch Emmons (firstname.lastname@example.org)
AUBURN NURSING PROJECT AIMED AT HELPING HEART PATIENTS
AUBURN -- Training home health nurses to more effectively help patients with congestive heart failure is the objective of a program involving Auburn University's Schools of Nursing and Pharmacy.
"Congestive heart failure is the most common complication following a heart attack," says Jenny Hamner, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing. "It also can occur as we get older and our muscles get weaker."
Patients with congestive heart failure have the highest reported hospital readmission rates of any other single patient group as well as an exceptionally high mortality rate, Hamner said.
"Research suggests that many of these patients cannot perform such basic activities as correctly defining their illness or identifying their medications," she added. "To provide the kind of care these patients need, we have to move beyond the four w alls of the hospital . . . when we can expand our care to include home health care and teaching (patients) about things such as proper diet, monitoring their symptoms and correctly taking their medications, we can perhaps reduce re hospitalization for congestive heart failure."
Standard home health care programs which exist in many hospitals are not sufficient for effectively treating congestive heart failure patients, according to Hamner.
"Nurses must have in-depth education to interact with these patients to teach the patients how to monitor their condition, how to eat properly and when to seek help," she said. "Our long-term objective is to educate congestive heart failure patients
in ways they can improve their self care and to reduce hospital readmission.
"In the short term, we are developing an education program for home health nurses caring for congestive heart failure patients, which will include the use of an interactive computer as a teaching aid as well as traditional classes."
Bill Felkey, an assistant professor in AU's Department of Pharmacy Care Systems, is instrumental in developing the script-based, interactive program that broadly addresses many areas about and for treating congestive heart failure.
Nurses in the program also work with 100 different congestive heart failure patients in the home health care program through East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika.
"The intervention aspects of the program are directed toward the home health nurses," Hamner said. "The patients involved were admitted to the hospital with congestive heart failure within the last five years, and the training continues as the patie nts move home."
The project will document the effect of the education program for home health nurses on clinical outcomes, Hamner added.
CONTACT: Hamner, 844-5665.