Advocating for the Vulnerable

Rossanne DecastroAt every acute-care hospital, there are patients who need enhanced supervision due to neurological impairment like Alzheimer's disease and dementia, a high risk of falling or a need for additional nursing assistance, such as help using the restroom.

Rossanne Decastro, MSN, RN, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, was determined to give these patients a safe, relaxing and caring environment all their own, and helped develop and implement the hospital's Specialty Adult-Focused Environment (SAFE) unit.

The unit, which opened in July 2012, features an open floor plan in which all 11 beds are visible from the centrally located nurses' station, an increased number of nurses for every patient, dimmed lights, relaxing evening activities and simplified schedules.

"The three registered nurses and three certified nursing assistants on the unit strive to get patients up to optimum function," Decastro said. "We prevent falls, help patients ambulate, promote rehabilitation and encourage activities of daily living and family participation at the bedside. This makes patients and their families feel safe and cared for."

The unit has also improved the hospital's bottom line and safety scores. In FY 2011, Sharp Chula Vista spent $173,000 on "sitters" who literally sit at the bedside and prevent falls. In FY 2012, after the SAFE unit went live, the hospital spent only $28,000 on sitters; a significant savings of $145,000. In addition, the number of falls at the hospital decreased from 14 in FY 2011 to 6 in FY 2012.

"Patients and their loved one are our greatest concern while they're here," Decastro said. "I believe they deserve nothing less than the best care, and they get it on the SAFE unit."

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For More Information
To learn more Sharp Chula Vista's programs and services, please call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm or send us an email.