Bridgeport Hospital Geriatric and Palliative Care team receives prestigious award for transforming care

Friday, June 29, 2018

BRIDGEPORT, CT (June 29, 2018) – The Geriatric and Palliative Care team at Bridgeport Hospital received the 2018 International Empathy Amplified Award during the Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Summit June 20. The national award recognizes individuals who transform care through courtesy, communication and compassion.

The team was nominated by President and CEO William M. Jennings, who cited the leadership of Vivian Argento, MD, executive director, Geriatrics and Palliative Care; Gina Calder, vice president, Ambulatory Services; Mithil Choksey, MD, medical director, Geriatrics; Kristin Edwards, MD, medical director, Palliative Care; and Gary Smart, director, Community Health, along with many others for providing outstanding care and support to geriatric patients and their families.

“Our Geriatric and Palliative Care caregivers go above and beyond when caring for patients,” Jennings said. “They receive consistently high patient satisfaction scores and are frequently recognized in hospital caregiver recognition programs. By demonstrating compassion and being present during the patient's experience, they have developed several unique hospital initiatives that have allowed us to improve care.”

Selected from over 100 nominees, Bridgeport Hospital was one of only five finalists along with MD Anderson Cancer Center, Ghosh Cancer Center, Children’s National Medical Center and Cleveland Clinic.

Jennings’ nomination cited several examples of the Geriatric and Palliative Care team’s kindness toward elderly patients and their families, most of which inspired internal recognition in Bridgeport Hospital’s Quality Award program, its major staff recognition initiative:

Some of those examples:
  • A terminally ill patient with dementia could only express her fear by crying out, “It hurts!” Pain and anxiety medications only worsened her condition. The Geriatric and Palliative Care team used a stuffed animal to provide comfort and companionship. This lessened the patient’s need for the medications. Now, with philanthropic funds, the team offers stuffed animal “PalliPets” to patients suffering from fear, anxiety, loneliness and grief. They also discovered the stuffed animals become tangible mementos after loved ones pass away.
  • The Palliative Care team created a legacy gift for the family of a patient who had just given birth but had postpartum complications resulting in a massive stroke. With the help of Neonatal ICU nurses, the team obtained inkpads and placed the handprint of the baby, with the thumbprints of the patient in the shape of a heart on either side of the handprint. Written below the handprint were the baby's name and the note “Surrounded by her mother's love.” The gift was given to the baby's great grandmother for safekeeping until the patient's mother was emotionally ready to receive it and one day give to her granddaughter. This type of memento is now used in other cases involving small children.
  • The team coordinated transportation for a disabled man whose mother was dying in the hospital and whose last wishes were to say goodbye to her son and be assured he would be receive the care he needed. Linda Kale, RN, nurse case manager, and geriatrician Anthony Arslan, DO, arranged transportation, helped the man say goodbye and ensured that he was supported after his mother passed away.
  • Social worker Kimberly Wills Rinaldi worked with a family who experienced the loss of a baby during childbirth and the transfer of the mother to the intensive care unit. Rinaldi helped the family find closure by making sure photos of the baby were taken to give to the mother after she recovered. 
“The Geriatric and Palliative Care team provides and models compassionate care in our hospital and community,” said Jennings. “They embody the concept of whole-person care, include patient and family values in medical decision making, and realize that our patients have complex goals. By delivering this high quality care and serving as healers and role models, they have been integral in shaping the culture of our hospital, ensuring care aligned with patient values, and assessing and maintaining staff wellness for some of our more challenging patient encounters.”

“I’m very proud of the team for winning this award and even more proud of the large and small gestures of compassionate care driven by their empathy,” said Dr. Argento. “I’m also proud to be a part of Bridgeport Hospital, which has allowed us to integrate so completely into daily operations and patient care.”

Bridgeport Hospital, part of Yale New Haven Health, is a non-profit 501-bed acute care hospital with two campuses (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale New Haven Children's Hospital). Its Bridgeport and Milford Campuses serve patients from across the region. The hospital admits more than 23,000 patients and provides nearly 350,000 outpatient treatments annually. The Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital is the only burn center in the state and one of only 64 verified burn centers in the United States. Bridgeport Hospital is committed to providing safe, compassionate and cost efficient care to its patients and the community.

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