Helene Fuld Health Trust awards grant to Fairfield's School of Nursing to purchase equipment for acute care at home, in hospital

The prestigious Helene Fuld Health Trust has awarded the School of Nursing a grant to purchase state-of-the-art equipment that will be used to enhance students' abilities to provide acute care to patients in hospitals and at home.

Dr. Theresa Valiga, dean of the school, said the grant is important because, "It addresses changes in the health care field that are putting greater responsibility on nurses to care for patients. Especially in home settings where the nurse is very independent, it is important that nurses are confident in making decisions and executing procedures that were performed only by physicians or confined only to hospital situations."

In announcing the gift she noted, "We are honored and grateful that the Helene Fuld Trust, the largest charitable trust in the United States devoted exclusively to nursing education, has selected our program for support. It is a great vote of confidence in the quality of our programs."

The grant will make possible the purchase of several pieces of equipment. A monitor and 12-lead EKG, for example, will give nursing students the practice they need to become proficient in taking and interpreting electrocardiograms, a procedure once restricted to physicians.

An injectable training arm with replacement kit, "blood," and fluid supply stand will help students master intravenous administration procedures and the withdrawing of blood samples. Dr. Sheila Grossman, associate professor of nursing who will be guiding students as they become increasingly proficient with the new equipment, explained, "With nurses being so independent in the home, they have to be able to handle any situation, such as taking samples of blood from a patient's catheter. We can even simulate problems, such as the catheter slipping out of the vein and fluid getting into surrounding tissue, a situation that can do damage as well as cause pain. We want our nursing students to be able to assess a situation like this and know how to manage it."

With the peritoneal dialysis simulator students will learn how to help patients who manage their dialysis at home. "Home dialysis is a cost effective way to allow patients to filter the toxins from their blood four times a day at home instead of having to travel to a medical center and be connected to a machine for five hours at a time," said Dr. Grossman. "People need a great deal of help and support to master the technique and a nurse may work with a patient for four to six weeks before the patient can be self sufficient."

Other equipment to be purchased with the grant includes a "Mr. Superskeleton" that will help students learn about tendons, bone structure and muscles. An increase in sports injuries and a desire to increase mobility among the elderly and acutely ill make this a valuable teaching tool.

In the application that won the $33,724 Helene Fuld Health Trust grant, Fairfield noted that it had increased its students' experiences in the community in response to the shift from hospital to community-based care. The School of Nursing's Health Promotion Center has operated in Bridgeport for four years, serving the poor, under-served, and multicultural populations in schools, community centers, senior high-rise centers, homes playgrounds and other sites.

The School of Nursing, founded in 1970 and accredited by the National League for Nursing, offers a bachelor of science in nursing degree program for full-time high school graduates, registered nurses and individuals who hold a degree in another field and wish to change careers to nursing. It also offers a master of science in nursing and a post-master's certificate with specialties in family primary care and mental health primary care.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on December 1, 1997

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