Bon Secours Investment in Nurse Navigators Paying Off in Patient Outcomes

Monday, May 21st, 2012
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

What does it take to be a Nurse Navigator for Bon Secours Medical Group? Just ask Irene Zolorotofe, RN, MS, MSN, who recruits, hires and trains nurse case managers to work alongside healthcare providers in the medical practices.

The ideal candidate is a nurse, of course. But beyond that, Bon Secours seeks seasoned, diligent self-starters for these embedded positions, explained the administrative director of clinical operations for Bon Secours Health System in a recent webinar on Recruiting, Training and Case Load Management Strategies for Embedded Case Managers.

New nursing graduates need not apply; instead, Bon Secours has tapped its community network of experienced nurse case managers and also recruited via the positive publicity generated by this program.

A newly hired Nurse Navigator is teamed with a veteran to learn the ropes, which include a 12-session training program in chronic disease management as well as an introduction to the tools and resources that support Bon Secours case management efforts. Their six-week orientation includes training on home visits, chronic disease registries used to identify “hot-spotters;” evidence-based guidelines, and phone scripts to follow during patient outreach.

Bon Secours trainers take a “deep dive” into medication adherence, emphasizing the importance of engaging a patient in this aspect of self-care. However, the most important job of an embedded Nurse Navigator is building a relationship with the care team and providers with which he or she is working, says Ms. Zolorotofe.

Nurse Navigators are currently co-located at 10 Bon Secours sites; priorities are internal medicine and cardiology. In certain cases, a Nurse Navigator may be shared among several practices. And sometimes due to sheer patient volume, a virtual case manager is needed to back up Bon Secours embedded Nurse Navigator.

The intensive training of Bon Secours Nurse Navigators in risk assessment and management of chronic disease is reaping dividends for the organization, with especially impressive results in diabetes management. Some practices hold a “Diabetes Day” on which all patients with this diagnosis are brought in for relevant eye exams, foot exams, and inoculations. There are also group visits to teach this population about diabetes self-management, complications, diet, and medication.

Experience has taught Bon Secours that the Nurse Navigators are best utilized in the practices and not in hospitals. “Sending Nurse Navigators into the hospital not efficient,” Ms. Zolorotofe noted. “We now work with the hospitals’ inpatient case managers to watch hospitalized patients from a distance.”

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