January 20, 2011

Compassionate care fuels Vanderbilt Heart Franklin

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Debbie Johnson, R.N., right, examines patient Marilyn Hoekstra at Vanderbilt Heart Franklin. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Compassionate care fuels Vanderbilt Heart Franklin

The Vanderbilt Heart & Vascular Institute's cardiology clinic in Franklin gives patients the best of both worlds — cutting-edge care in a convenient setting.

The clinic's five nurses have devoted themselves to providing compassionate care at the highest standards of safety and quality, demonstrating why Vanderbilt University Medical Center is deserving of a second Magnet designation, nursing officials say.

Vanderbilt Heart Franklin, located about 20 miles south of VUMC's main campus, sees 50-70 patients each day for general cardiology and sub-specialty care.

“With the exception of invasive procedures, we can do everything in this freestanding facility that happens downtown, including echocardiograms, stress tests and nuclear studies,” said Kristi Cummings, L.P.N. “Patients get the highest quality care with a lot less hassle.”

Using the motto “one heart at a time,” the clinic's nurses strive to treat each patient as an individual.

“We greet our patients by name and introduce ourselves. We try to answer whatever questions we can. We make sure the patients are comfortable before starting a procedure,” said Debbie Johnson, R.N. “It's about putting yourself in their place and giving them the kind of care you would want to receive.”

Though the clinic has a small nursing staff, all are trained to provide the full spectrum of care.

“We're all cross-trained to do clinic, office and diagnostic work,” said Debbie Abbott, R.N. “That way, we all know the patients and can easily pick up where someone left off, and we're constantly collaborating and bouncing ideas off each other. We can also easily ask for back-up if we need it.”

Jason Jean, M.S.N., R.N., F.N.P., said the goal of this was a sense of continuity for patients.

“Our nurses follow patients all the way through, while in a larger clinic, staff would always be handing off care. In terms of safety and quality, everyone knows the patients and can follow them. Professionally, the nurses also get out of their comfort zone.”

The clinic prides itself on the level of communication it maintains with patients. The nurses establish reminders through My Health at Vanderbilt and make every effort to accommodate patients who walk in without an appointment.

“We are willing to go above and beyond to help patients on a daily basis,” said Kerry Harris, B.S.N., R.N. “We don't just do our job and go home. I've worked at other places where it's five o'clock and everyone is out the door. We don't leave without every phone call being addressed and being sure our patients were cared for in the best way.”