On Aug. 15 and 16, nurses from three Life Care Centers of America facilities in the Cleveland, Ohio, area gathered at Life Care Center of Medina for the first training session in Life Care’s new wound care initiative.


Besides the Medina associates, participants came from Life Care Center of Westlake and Life Care Center of Elyria. Throughout both days, the nurses took part in an interactive wound care certification training.


Angel Sutton, Life Care’s director of wound management and a certified wound care nurse, organized and led the sessions.


The pilot training in Ohio taught the nurses the Wound Treatment Associate program recognized by the Wound Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society.


“It was exciting to start this in the Lakes Region because that is where the WOCN started,” Sutton said. “We wanted to have a wound care certified nurse per shift in these three centers for seven-day-a-week coverage. They will be taking the hardest wounds in the country in these facilities, because of where they’re located. The worst wounds in the country go to the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.”


The Ohio nurses began by completing the 14 WTA modules online before the training. They then did hands-on practice with Sutton and guest experts on the topics addressed: dressing techniques, lower extremity assessments and multi-layer compression wraps.


“It was great for all of us in the virtual class to get together in an actual classroom and share our thoughts and support each other,” said Karen Tremblay, division director of clinical services.


“The team formed a bond during the two skills checklist days,” said Nancy Hodges, director of nursing at Life Care Center of Medina, “and the excitement grew as we worked through and all passed our competency tests. It was fun!”


Ohio is not the only area that will benefit from the wound care initiative.


“The acuity of our patients has increased,” Sutton shared. “Wounds that we’re seeing now in the nursing homes, just five years ago you’d see in the ICU. Even hospitals and wound clinics don’t have credentialed wound care. Our goal is to have it in every facility.”


The first step in that process is education.


Life Care currently offers monthly webinars on the ABCs of wound care to give associates a good foundation. Sutton is also working on offering the WTA program on Village Square, the company intranet site, for ease of access.


Sutton followed up the August training with a Wound Care Council meeting at Life Care’s corporate offices at the end of September. Nurses and therapists from each division discussed the needs in their areas and what is currently working. The Council also has monthly teleconferences.


One area the Council is addressing is implementing wound care rounds. Nurses, therapists and associates from other disciplines check in regularly on residents with wounds to ensure they are doing their best to heal wounds.


Also in September, Life Care partnered with BSN Medical to provide wraps, long-term stockings and the personnel to train Life Care’s associates in their use.


The wound care program is now in phase 2 at Ka Punawai Ola in Kapolei, Hawaii.


At this facility, the nursing administration team has been doing weekly wound rounds. Leaders encourage attending physicians to closely monitor their patients’ wounds, and other nursing associates will undergo the WTA training in the coming weeks.


“The most exciting thing is having more of us on the team so that we all have the same knowledge of what is going on with a specific resident’s wound,” said Gayle Green, assistant director of nursing at Ka Punawai Ola. “Our team is confident, and we are talking about admitting residents with more complex wounds in the future.”


Life Care will be rolling the wound care program out to more facilities in 2015.


For the future, Sutton hopes to be able to offer telemedicine consultations for families and caregivers, offering support and education when a nurse encounters a wound that goes beyond his or her knowledge. She also hopes to partner with a rental company for hyperbaric chambers to do short-term wound care intervention for specific wounds, like gangrene.


All these wound care interventions have at their core the well-being of the residents.


“As a nurse, we’re called to relieve patient suffering and to provide comfort,” Sutton said. “How better to do that than to prevent and heal wounds?”

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