Clearwater Valley & St. Mary’s Hospitals and Clinics’ Visiting Nurse Service was established in November of 2009. They are currently making home visits to 50 patients in our area. Requirements for patients interested in this service are that they be homebound, have a skilled need, and are under a doctor, FNP or PA’s care. Patients who are most likely to benefit from this service are usually post-hospitalization or acute care, wound care patients, frequent ER visitors, or patients with medication management issues.
“The number one thing that we want people to know,” said Shawn Severson, VNS Coordinator, “is that we are available all over this area. Many people don’t realize that our care extends out into the back roads of Pierce and all the way out to Reubens, ID.” The VNS service area includes Orofino, Kamiah, Kooskia, Cottonwood, Grangeville, Nez Perce, Pierce, Weippe, Reubens, Winchester, Harpster, Stites and Craigmont. The main VNS office is centrally located in Kamiah.
Thanks to Electronic Medical Records being implemented at the clinics the Visiting Nurses are able to be connected to the clinic and the hospitals while out on their visits. “A few weeks ago I was at a patient’s home and he was doing poorly. One week out of the hospital and it was obvious he needed to be seen. While sitting in the home I was able to send an alert to both Dr. Petersen and his nurse Cindy and in about two minutes there was a phone call for the patient to come to the clinic to be seen; and by his own doctor at that,” Severson says. “It has also helped with speeding up the process of calling in refills for patients and being able to keep doctors updated of their patient’s needs.”
When the SMH-CVHC Home Health and Syringa Home Health programs dissolved in 2009 the need was recognized for some sort of service to continue what Home Health was doing. This VNS program is the only one in the state and the idea came from an Eide Bailey conference that Severson and other hospital staff attended. When the idea was brought to Casey Meza, CEO, to begin the VNS program here she didn’t hesitate, “let’s just do the right thing,” and the VNS program turned out to be just that for our area.
The VNS program is only for skilled nursing patients; this means they are unable to provide physical therapy, speech therapy or any personal care requests that patients may have such as help with laundry, groceries, or cooking. What the VNS program is designed to do is to provide quality care to patients who are unable to make it to their doctor’s office on their own. Family members are a great help to many patients but are not always able to keep track of all medications and instructions and are certainly unable to check a patients Coumadin levels. “Coumadin is a medication that is used to keep my blood from clotting, Shawn comes and checks my levels for me,” says Brookside Landing resident Tom Reilly. “Dr. McGrath is my doc and he was the one who suggested I get set up with the VNS program. Shawn is great to me, and last week I even played her a couple of songs on my harmonica!”
Dr. Brown is the current physician who oversees the VNS program and is responsible for signing off on all patient Plans of Care. “A Plan of Care (POC) is created for every patient every 60 days. This is the doctor’s order and includes the diagnosis, medications, functional and mental limitations, allergies, our goals, the patient’s potential to meet those goals and discharge planning. Our IT guy, Drew Johnson, has worked diligently to get this form into the EMR which has been great for us,” says Severson.
The VNS team is made up of four nurses and one clerk. Jana Frei, RN, works out of the Granville Clinic and services the surrounding area, Linda Murphy, RN, works out of Pierce Medical Clinic and services that area and Lola Ryan, RN works out of the Orofino clinic and services that area. Brandi Larson, VNS clerk, is responsible for scheduling, charges, scanning orders and keeping track of Quality Indicators. Shawn Severson works in all the areas, at times, but primarily serves Craigmont, Reubens, Kamiah, Kooskia and Orofino.