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New Technologies Enhance Nursing Care at Quarry Hill

Two years ago, the Gardens, Quarry Hill’s 39-bed short- and long-term nursing care community, became the first center of its kind in Maine to offer patients and residents the services of an on-site senior services physician. Today, the Gardens remains on the leading edge, with the introduction of technologies designed to make patients’ and residents’ day-to-day lives more comfortable, streamline care, and improve outcomes.

Commenting on the developments, Director of Nursing Nancy Marcille, RN, BSHA, points to a range of enhancements that includes new patient lifts and improved diagnostics as well as expanded wireless connectivity to the Internet:

Patient lifts

A new system of portable motors and ceiling tracks helps individuals with mobility challenges get out of bed and navigate hallways more safely and independently. Part of the Safe Patient- and Family-Centered Care initiative underway throughout Quarry Hill’s parent organization Pen Bay Healthcare, the system promotes dignity, speeds recovery, and reduces the risk of injury for patients, residents, and staff. Ultimately, Quarry Hill expects to offer the system in all Gardens rooms.

On-site diagnostics

Diagnostic equipment newly installed at Quarry Hill has meant fewer unnecessary trips to the hospital.

For example, EKGs, which measure electrical impulses in the heart, can now be performed at the Gardens under physicians’ orders, thus eliminating a hospital visit. What’s more, the results often allow doctors to rule out conditions that would require a lengthier inpatient stay.

Another new tool, the ultrasound bladder scanner, allows specially trained nurses to measure the amount of urine in a person’s bladder and, if necessary, take steps to relieve retention. Retention may lead to urinary tract infections that can be particularly dangerous for frail or elderly patients; and catheterization, previously used to prevent retention, is uncomfortable and can itself lead to infection.

Wireless access

Wireless web access, now available throughout the Gardens, not only enhances patients’ and residents’ day-to-day lives, but has surprising therapeutic benefits as well.

“Today, more and more of the people we serve are web-savvy,” says Marcille. “We’ve found that those who stay connected to friends, family, and the larger world tend to be happier and recover more quickly.”

A Doctor in the House

Only two short years ago, it all felt so novel. Quarry Hill had just become the only community of its kind in Maine to offer residents the services of an inhouse physician, and the mere sight of the snowy-bearded Richard Kahn, MD, striding the halls in his lab coat and stethoscope, had us all doing doubletakes. “Richie” Kahn is now an established and treasured member of our team.  But has the Senior Services Physician Specialist (SSPS) model—a homegrown innovation that once, and still, sets Quarry Hill apart in its field—lived up to its original promise? Actually, yes. And then some.

To be sure, more and more residents are feeling the benefits of Dr. Kahn’s care. As of October 2011, his practice had grown to include 74 percent of individuals residing in the Gardens, Quarry Hill’s short- and long-term nursing center; 71 percent of residents of the Terraces, our traditional assisted living program; and 78 percent of those in the memory-impairment community known as the Courtyard. Thirty-seven percent of our independent-living residents use Dr. Kahn as well.

And from what we hear, the vast majority of these folks are highly satisfied with the doctor’s care.

 “When I moved to Quarry Hill, I found I liked the convenience of having my own doctor, right here in the building,” comments independent-living resident Emily Mundo. “Dr. Kahn really listens to what I have to say. And because he specializes in the needs of older patients, I feel confident in his care.”

Similarly smitten is Camden resident Ann Montgomery, whose husband resides in the Gardens: “Now that Quarry Hill has a doctor on site, I can’t imagine being without him. Knowing that he’s there and able to take care of any problems that arise is a tremendous comfort to me.”

But convenience and peace of mind for those on the receiving end of the SSPS model aren’t the only reasons why people here are singing its praises.

Director of Nursing Nancy Marcille, RNC, BSHA, speaks from a clinical perspective when she raves about the changes that have occurred since the program went into effect.

 “In terms of both timeliness and continuity of care,” she says, “there’s simply nothing like having a physician on site. With Dr. Kahn here, we’re addressing medical issues before they become crises. We’re avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations; and we’re catching problems we might otherwise have missed that do warrant a hospital stay.”

Gardens Unit Manager Carmen Edwards, RN, chimes in: “Before, on a typical day, we used to work with as many as 10 different doctors. We had to track them down and then wait for orders and instructions. Now, patient care is much more efficient. Even when Dr. Kahn isn’t here, we can always reach him on his cell phone.”

So what once felt like a bold plunge into uncharted territory is paying off. With SSPS, “we’re providing better, safer, more consistent care for all our residents,” summarizes Carmen. “And that’s what Quarry Hill is all about.”