Advocate Condell Medical Center
Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville is the largest health care provider in Lake County, IL, and the only Level I trauma center in the county. Named in the Truven Health Analytics rankings of 100 Top Hospitals, Condell is Magnet-designated and recognized for its leadership in obstetrics, radiological services, rehabilitation, open-heart surgery, neurosurgery and oncology.
Creating Care Partners
Nurses at Advocate Condell Medical Center faced a troubling, yet delicate challenge: Intensive care unit (ICU) patients’ families and friends were camping out in the waiting room while standing vigil for loved ones. And while they were well meaning, crowd control was becoming an issue for health professionals, whose job of saving lives was being hindered by the need to direct traffic.
Enter ICU nurse manager Raeann Fuller, MSN, RN, CCRN, CNML, and ICU nurse Amanda Zimmerman, BSN, RN, who were looking for their final projects for their master’s degrees. What they did proved their educational pursuits are far from an empty exercise.
While Fuller devised what she called a “family-centered” approach that would consider patients’ families an integral part of the care equation, Zimmerman researched tools that would serve everyone’s needs.
“There was too much noise and chaos in the unit and that was only adding to everybody’s stress: the patient’s, the family’s and the staff’s,” said Fuller. “When families are in crisis, it means they don’t make good decisions. They don’t sleep, they don’t eat and they’re tired.”
The pair came up with the idea of enlisting a Care Partner, a role that would become the nucleus of their solution. Collaborating with their ICU colleagues, they built this family-centered approach around the Care Partner, who is a relative or friend designated by the patient to have 24-hour access to the patient and serve as a liaison between the health team and all those concerned about the patient.
The Care Partner or Partners (there can be two) are permitted to stay overnight in the room with the patient, while all other visitors clear out of the waiting room from 11 pm to 11 am.
The result allows nurses to provide the best, most focused care to their patients and allows family and friends to rest while maintaining vigilance for their loved ones.
Fuller and Zimmerman initially feared other nurses would reject the idea of having any visitors in such close proximity at all hours of the day. But once the others saw that this arrangement would ease pressure on everyone, their fears were eliminated.
“Evidence-based practice indicates that family members are going to feel more comfortable and are going to trust you,” Zimmerman said. “They think, ‘I feel good with you, so I can go home and rest or shower and know that my family member is in good hands, and I also know that you’re going to call me if something happens.’”
But the benefits don’t stop at the bedside. “It also kind of tied us all together as a unit,” Zimmerman said. “We are like a family—a work family. We realized how important this is and how important our patients are.”
Today, their ICU is an island of calm all through the night. There’s even live harp music one day a week.