Apart from medical science and technology, the most important thing to any hospital patient is the care they receive from the nursing staff. That is their daily, and often hourly, contact with the world from which they have been separated.
Traditionally one of the intangible assets of patient care has been "bedside manner." Recognizing this the Princeton, NJ, based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has established the National Advisory Council for Transforming Care at the Bedside (TCAB).
Rosalynn Alvarez, RN, a 27 year old nurse in the medical/surgical unit of Inova Alexandria Hospital has recently been named to serve a two year term on that Council. She will work with an interdisciplinary team on ways to improve the care delivery at the bedside as well as suggesting ways to increase nursing staff satisfaction.
"We're very excited that Rosalynn has been selected to represent Inova Alexandria Hospital and the field of nursing as part of the RWJF National Advisory Council. She has an exemplary track record and we know she'll do great things," said Kenneth Kozloff, senior vice president, Inova Health System, and administrator, IAH.
"I've always wanted to be a nurse. My mother was a private duty nurse and I accompanied her to work. That's when I decided I wanted to be able to help people," Alvarez said.
"Rosalynn consistently exceeds the high standards set for a medical/surgical nurse at Inova Alexandria Hospital," said Delmy Turcios, RN, patient care director, medical/surgical unit, and the supervisor that nominated Alvarez for the appointment. She was joined in that effort by Kathy Barry, chief operating officer,IAH, and Karen Drenkard, cheif nurse executive, IHS.
"When I was seeking nominations her name was suggested throughout Inova's medical/surgical unit. It came down to three area finalists and she was selected after a verbal telephone interview with the Foundation," Turcios said.
"The day I was being interviewed we were having some problems in changing the configuration of some rooms to make them better for the patients so I was a little unnerved. But, we are always trying
to make things better for our patients," Alvarez said.
A native of the Washington region, Alvarez graduated from George Mason University in 2001 and lives in Sterling. She has been a nurse for four years.
"When I was deciding on hospitals it was important to me to have direct care with patients. I wanted that hands-on experience," she explained.
"This hospital offers me a great support system. I feel that I have really grown here. I hope to eventually return to school for my master's degree," Alvarez said.
CREATED IN 2003, the TCAB initiative helped the Institute for Health Care Improvement and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation establish a framework for change in medical/surgical units. It has concentrated on improvements in four primary categories: Safe and reliable care; Vitality and teamwork; Patient-centered care; and Value-added care processes.
New ideas within each category are being tested, refined and implemented in 13 pilot hospitals. Examples include:
Use of rapid response teams to "rescue" patients before a crisis occurs
Improving communications among caregivers
Providing professional support programs and educational opportunities
Liberalized diet plans and meal schedules for patients
Redesigned workspace that enhances efficiency and reduces waste
Alvarez's term on the Council begins in May. It will include at least two national meetings per year and up to three conference calls per year
"In addition to improving patient care we will also be advising on how to retain nurses and encourage more individuals to become nurses. We will be advising on how to improve the nursing profession and medical care in general. There is always room for improvement," Alvarez said.
One of Alvarez's responsibilities is to aid in the coordination of patients who are admitted to the hospital with multiple diagnosis. "We try to get them well enough to get back home as soon as possible," she said.
"It is a true privilege to have employees such as Rosalynn as a part of our team. She will make an excellent addition to the National Advisory Council," Turcios said.