Advancing Quality of Life in Vulnerable Populations: The First Quality Care Summit

From the halls of research to the bedside, Carolina Nursing faculty embrace the nitty-gritty of real-world care and are fearless in their pursuit of new knowledge that will lead to best care practices. In June they joined longstanding partner in this pursuit, First Quality®, to inaugurate a Care Summit to address current challenges to patient care and how best to solve them.

First Quality, a solutions-based corporate leader in products for long-term, assisted living and acute care, sponsored the summit, which took place in Chapel Hill June 7-8, 2016. UNCSON research faculty joined First Quality for a dynamic dialogue centered on a common goal — Meeting Vulnerable Populations Where They Live: A Summit to Address Care Challenges and Solutions.

Assistant Dean for Advancement Anne Webb collaborated with First Quality Technical Service Director and former SON Foundation Board member Jim Minetola to secure funding for the summit. The summit grew from the vision of Dr. Mary Palmer, Helen W. & Thomas L. Umphlet Distinguished Professor in Aging, who led the event along with Michele Mongillo, Clinical Director at First Quality.

“The School of Nursing is a vibrant community of nurse scientists and educators engaged in real-world solutions,” said Palmer. “First Quality is incredibly innovative and forward-thinking on behalf of a rapidly increasing patient population. Bringing our strengths together to brainstorm solutions for the good of vulnerable patients was a goal of this summit, and it was fantastic working with them.”

With corporate funding from First Quality, more than 60 students, faculty, First Quality employees and School of Nursing Foundation board members explored the latest advancements in caring for the elderly, those with chronic physical or mental illness, inmate populations and the homeless.

Faculty from the Schools of Nursing, Medicine, Social Work and the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health presented a holistic look at the influences of government policy, low-resource communities, medication delivery, communication and preventive and palliative care. “After the presentations, we broke into small groups of lightning talks — fast bursts of information to encourage discussion,” Palmer said. “It was very intentional to think creatively. It was a high energy meeting.”

Organizers hope the partnership with First Quality will continue. “They’re interested in seeking real-world solutions, and that’s why they mesh so well with our faculty. The summit created a lot of energy and creative thinking for solution-finding and we want to carry that forward,” said Palmer.

An earlier partnership with First Quality created a graduate student merit scholarship that, through leadership opportunities, exposed students to the latest developments in evidence-based care while networking with First Quality health care professionals to learn more about their industry.