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Collaborative helping Midstate nursing homes control COVID-19

Aug. 18, 2021, 10:45 AM

VUMC members of the Quality Improvement Collaborative for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Middle Tennessee Nursing Homes are, from left, Monique George, RN, FNP, Carole Bartoo, MSN, AGNP-BC, Jacy Weems, Mattie Brady, MSN, Sunil Kripalani, MD, MSc, Sandra Simmons, PhD, Anna Gallion, DNP, APRN, Tara Horr, MD, and April Hanlotxomphou, MSN, FNP. Not pictured are Victor Legner, MD, MS, and Kristina Niehoff, PharmD. (Photo taken by Donn Jones prior to revised mask guidelines)
VUMC members of the Quality Improvement Collaborative for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Middle Tennessee Nursing Homes are, from left, Monique George, RN, FNP, Carole Bartoo, MSN, AGNP-BC, Jacy Weems, Mattie Brady, MSN, Sunil Kripalani, MD, MSc, Sandra Simmons, PhD, Anna Gallion, DNP, APRN, Tara Horr, MD, and April Hanlotxomphou, MSN, FNP. Not pictured are Victor Legner, MD, MS, and Kristina Niehoff, PharmD. (Photo taken by Donn Jones prior to revised mask guidelines)

by Bill Snyder

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has received a two-year, $1.2 million award from the Tennessee Department of Health and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide tailored education and coaching to 75 Middle Tennessee nursing homes focused on infection control, quality improvement and other pandemic-related challenges.

Approximately 1,500 nurses will receive training through the Quality Improvement Collaborative for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Middle Tennessee Nursing Homes.

“Our team is honored to have this opportunity to support the health and well-being of nursing home residents in our area,” said principal investigator Sunil Kripalani, MD, MSc, professor of Medicine in the Section of Hospital Medicine and director of the Center for Health Services Research and Center for Clinical Quality and Implementation Research at VUMC.

His co-investigators are geriatricians Victor Legner, MD, MS, associate professor of Medicine, and Tara Horr, MD, assistant professor of Medicine, and gerontologist Sandra Simmons, PhD, professor of Medicine and director of the Center for Quality Aging. Jacy Weems is the program coordinator.

Early in the pandemic, nurse practitioners from VUMC, in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Health, worked with nursing homes to contain outbreaks of COVID-19. Legner led that effort, with John Morris, MD, professor of Surgery and associate chief of staff for the Vanderbilt Health System.

“This CMS award allows us to continue and extend that work,” Kripalani said. “Even though many seniors have been vaccinated, which provides substantial protection against COVID-19 infection, nursing homes in Middle Tennessee are still facing a lot of challenges related to the pandemic.

“Vaccination rates in some facilities and in many surrounding areas are still quite low,” he said. “There is still a high risk for an outbreak, which can be devastating in a nursing home community.”

The focus on the pandemic also prevented many nursing homes from giving full attention to other quality initiatives that, for example, are designed to prevent falls and ensure medication safety.

Over the next 12 to 18 months, VUMC’s multidisciplinary team of nurse practitioners, geriatricians, quality improvement experts and pharmacists will work with administrators and staff at more than half of the nursing homes in Middle Tennessee.

The team will provide tailored education, evidence-based resources and direct, hands-on coaching to aid in the development and implementation of quality improvement initiatives.

“The program is designed to be tailored to nursing homes’ needs,” Kripalani said. “They will choose what to work on based on their local challenges and priorities.”

Participating nursing homes will be encouraged to share their best practices and solutions to help others in the collaborative meet their own challenges. The goal is to improve overall quality of nursing home care throughout the region.

Other team members include:

  • Mattie Brady, MSN, lead nurse practitioner and assistant in Medicine in the Division of Geriatric Medicine;
  • Nurse practitioners Carole Bartoo, MSN, AGNP-BC, instructor in Medicine and Clinical Nursing; Anna Gallion, DNP, APRN, instructor in Nursing; Monique George, RN, FNP; and April Hanlotxomphou, MSN, FNP; and
  • Clinical pharmacist Kristina Niehoff, PharmD.

The effort is funded by CMS’ Civil Monetary Penalty Reinvestment Program, which is administered locally by the Tennessee Department of Health and supports quality and safety initiatives in nursing homes.

The project is being conducted in partnership with CMS Atlanta and Alliant Quality, the Medicare Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) for the state of Tennessee.

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