Funding to improve patient outcomes and reduce hospital complications

A team of healthcare professionals at West Virginia University, led by Joanne Duffy, Ph.D., R.N., endowed professor of the WVU School of Nursing, is working together to reduce complications and improve health outcomes in older adults and cardiac surgery patients in rural West Virginia.

Seniors and heart surgery patients are often at an increased risk for developing issues with day-to-day activities and complications during hospital stays. Faculty members from the WVU Schools of Nursing, Medicine and Pharmacy, working at WVU Medicine’s Ruby Memorial Hospital, will evaluate a model that uses a team-based, patient-centered approach. Developed by Dr. Duffy, the model will improve the patient experience and reduce costly complications from hospitalization, including infections, pain, decline in the patient’s ability to function normally in day-to-day activities, longer-than-normal hospital stays and repeat admissions to the hospital.

Duffy’s competitive award is one of only 26 nationwide and offers a three-year, $1.396 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to focus on collaboration among health professionals to improve care for these two groups of patients.

“This award provides a wonderful opportunity to evaluate and sustain a model of interprofessional collaborative practice that may benefit the citizens of West Virginia and contribute to the mission of the WVU Health Sciences Center,” Duffy said.

As part of the research project, the group will focus on enhancing health professionals’ teamwork skills; developing more collaborative partnerships among nurses, doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals in clinical units; establishing a long-term approach to sustain the model; and providing organizational-wide recognition for effective collaborative practice. In years two and three of the project, the model will be rolled out to other hospital units and outpatient facilities to continue strengthening health professionals’ teamwork skills and enhance patient care.

Other members of the interprofessional team include Kari Sand-Jecklin, Ed.D., M.S.N., R.N., and Aletha Rowlands, Ph.D., both of the School of Nursing; Jon Wietholter, Pharm.D., of the School of Pharmacy; and Carl Grey, M.D., of the School of Medicine.

“I want to congratulate Dr. Duffy and her team on this project. This type of research is so important to promoting health and eliminating health disparities of patients, while focusing on strong partnerships among healthcare professionals,” said Tara Hulsey, Ph.D., R.N., dean of the WVU School of Nursing. “This is a wonderful example of the important work we do here at West Virginia University to improve lives of our fellow West Virginians.”

For more information: Tara Curtis, 304-581-1772