By Kim Walter
WINCHESTER -- Practicing professionals from all of Valley Health's entities gathered Friday for the seventh annual Showcase for Sharing at Winchester Medical Center.
The hospital's Nursing Research, Quality and Evidence Based Practice Council holds the event each year in the spirit of increasing the use and knowledge of evidence-based or "best" practices at Valley Health.
Groups of employees put together a total of 36 research or performance improvement presentations, which were judged by Valley Health board members, nursing faculty and other community leaders.
Topics included diabetes care, pain management, vascular access, and a variety of other efforts to improve communication, outcomes and efficiency.
The winning research project was titled, "Initiative to Increase Rates of Exclusive Breastfeeding among Rural Hispanic Immigrant Women."
One of the project's authors, Kimberly Pineda, explained that the hospital offers plenty of classes on breastfeeding, techniques and benefits. However, they're all in English.
The purpose of the project was to evaluate the prenatal education component of a multi-component breastfeeding promotion intervention using intercultural communication strategies designed to increase the number of Hispanic women who choose to exclusively breastfeed their newborns.
Just over 71 Hispanic women who were pregnant, low income and uninsured volunteered to be a part of the study.
Pineda said she developed activities and games to engage Hispanic women. A big part of the educational portion was finding out what women thought they knew about breastfeeding, and giving them the actual corresponding facts and data.
"We kept hearing the same questions and concerns ... they thought their milk wasn't good enough, or that formula has just as many benefits," she said.
So, Pineda used a comparison that hit home with the women. She said she asked if they would prefer store bought tortilla chips over hot, freshly made tortillas.
"Of course they want the fresh stuff ... who doesn't?" she said. "We took that and explained that their baby would much rather have the breast milk than the formula."
Mentors and interpreters were also instrumental in helping women in the first three days after giving birth -- often if a women gets discouraged in those first days she won't be able to exclusively breastfeed for the recommended first six months.
As a result, 41 percent of the mothers who attended the educational intervention achieved exclusive breastfeeding at discharge from the hospital, compared to only 3.1 percent of the usual care group.
Naomi Pitcock, nurse and Shenandoah University faculty member, said it was very rewarding to see the data, which spoke for itself.
"Now we can use this as a model for other culturally competent interventions," she said. "I think the Showcase for Sharing kind of gave us that extra push to really take a look at this important issue ... and now we're seeing results."
One project out of Warren Memorial Hospital in Front Royal placed third in the performance improvement category.
After seeing responses from patient surveys, staff members realized that they weren't doing as well as they could with helping patients manage pain. An interdisciplinary group met for three days earlier this year to examine the patient's experience from arrival in the emergency room until discharge.
Dawn Woodrum, a nurse educator involved in the project, said certain changes took place in pain management education and protocol.
"We wanted to make sure patients knew we believed them when they described their pain, and that we want to help," she said. "We also decided to involve patients in their own pain management plan."
As a result, immediate improvement was seen on patient surveys.
Karen Griffin, a physical therapy assistant with Home Health, went a little outside of the box for her project. She found that 20 out of 25 individuals 65 years of age or older would go grocery shopping if there were more places for them to sit down throughout the store. Many didn't want to use the motorized carts, she found, because they couldn't operate them or found them to be faulty.
Griffin decided to contact Martin's grocery store to see if they would consider putting seating at the end of isles and other high traffic spots -- and not just the front of the store.
"It might not seem earth shattering, but this was a topic that's important to me," she said. "I'm glad I got to share it with other professionals ... and I learned a few new things today, too!"
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org