Alison McGrory-Watson, a private cook who lives in Deep River, had serious medical problems, including Hepatitis C and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), when she was assigned Nichole Mitchell as her primary care provider at Community Health Center Inc. (CHC) in Middletown. McCrory-Watson was uninsured, and Mitchell went to great lengths to get financial assistance for two new drugs aimed at addressing her medical problems. As a result, McGrory-Watson is now Hep C-free, and she hopes a drug she’s taking for PTSD will quell the lingering effects of being gang-raped as a teenager and witnessing a brutal stabbing as an adult.
There’s something about Mitchell that might surprise you. She’s not a doctor; she’s a nurse. A nurse practitioner (NP), to be precise. But McGrory-Watson insists that the care Mitchell provides is every bit as good as she would get from a physician.
The Connecticut Childbirth & Women’s Center in Danbury is a 50-minute drive from Evelyn DeGraf’s home in Westchester. Pregnant with her second child, the 37-year-old didn’t hesitate to make the drive—she wanted her birth to be attended by a midwife, not a doctor. DeGraf believed midwifery care to be more personal and less rushed than that delivered by obstetrics/gynecologists (OB/GYNs). She also knew an OB/GYN would deem her relatively advanced maternal age and previous cesarean section history too high-risk to attempt a VBAC, or vaginal birth after cesarean section. But she had to drive roughly 35 miles to find a midwife because there aren’t many of them.
On any day, thousands of Connecticut children need to be given medication while in child care centers, but many providers don’t know how to properly administer the medications, studies show. To change that equation, the Yale School of Nursing developed a curriculum and has trained 75 nurse consultants to teach child care providers on how to correctly give medication to children in their daily care. Child care providers at more than 200 sites have been trained statewide. “We have made some steady progress on this,” said Angela Crowley, a leader in crafting the curriculum and a professor and coordinator in the pediatric nurse practitioner specialty at Yale School of Nursing. “It is really exciting because we did something really innovative.”
State law requires providers who need to administer medication be trained in how to do so, but there is no uniform training method used by all providers, Crowley said.
At Bridgeport Hospital, “talking bed rails” programmed to speak to patients in the geriatric psychiatric unit are helping to reduce the number of alarms that sound when a patient at risk for falling tries to get out of bed. At the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain, health care professionals are adopting techniques from aviation safety experts to reduce the chances of a catastrophic event happening before a clinical alarm goes off. These are among the many ways Connecticut hospitals are tackling a phenomenon known industry-wide as alarm fatigue. Health care experts worry that medical devices with built-in alarms – such as heart monitors, infusion pumps and ventilators – designed to alert caregivers that patients are in danger could potentially put patients at risk because caregivers are desensitized by the sheer number of alerts and false alarms and fail to respond in a timely fashion. Research shows alarms in intensive care units are accurate less than 10 percent of the time, and 90 percent are false alarms.
Solutions for combating alarm fatigue range from alarm integration technology that sends alerts to a caregiver’s telephone to the development of a new generation of “smart alarms,” including ones designed to monitor multiple vital signs.