Improving Care of Acutely Ill Elders

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Older Adults Are a Hospital’s CORE Business

  • Make up 52% of non-obstetric hospital days
  • Long lengths of stay (7.8 vs. 5.4 days)
  • High rates of readmission within 30 days

Mathy Mezey, EdD, RN, FAAN
Professor and Director, The John A. Hartford Foundation Institute for Geriatric Nursing
NYU College of Nursing
Presented at AACN Spring Annual Meeting, March 12, 2006

Improving the health of North Carolina’s elderly population by bringing education and training in geriatric care to nurses in rural or underserved areas is the goal of this grant.

"North Carolina’s elderly population is growing rapidly, but few nurses are formally trained in geriatric nursing," said Dr. Mary H. Palmer, UNC Umphlet Distinguished Professor in Aging in the School of Nursing. "Our program uses innovative geriatric clinical simulations to educate nurses so they can recognize and respond to changes in acutely ill patients, and improve the quality of their responses, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes."

This grant has been funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the UNC Nursing School started the program, Improving the Nursing Care of Acutely Ill Elders, since 2003.

"Since the grant began, we’ve had 7000 nurses particpated in the program who have increased their geriatric nursing knowledge and competency," Palmer said, "because not all nurses can travel to Chapel Hill, we have created an electronic library of geriatric simulations, located at".

"Program evaluations have shown a statistically significant increase in geriatric treatment knowledge for program participants," said Dr. Vicki Kowlowitz, evaluator for this grant. "Additionally, evaluations completed by participants have been overwhelmingly positive."

A virtual Center for Geriatric Clinical Simulations has been built to disseminate the simulations to nurses throughout the state and beyond. In addition, the School of Nursing Center for Lifelong Learning will administer American Nurses’ Credentialing Center contact hour credits for nurses who complete the online simulations.

"In the end, it’s about providing better care for our nation’s older adults. We’re starting in North Carolina, but we believe this program has the potential to expand nationwide," Palmer said.

Gero staff photo
From the left: Vicki Kowlowitz, Allyson Banas, Mary H. Palmer, Julia Shaw-Kokot, Yin Li

Contact Us

For more information about Improving the Care of Acutely Ill Elders, contact Project Coordinator Allyson Banas.

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