September 2004

St. Francis in Breckenridge Recognized for Contributions to National Nursing Home Collaborative

"Rather than focus on extended research, we seek to make small, practical and rapid changes that add up to positive results."

Ann Hower, RN, Quality Coordinator
St. Francis Home, Breckenridge, MN

As an active member of the National Nursing Home Improvement Collaborative, (NNHIC), St. Francis Home, Breckenridge, Minn., contributes to and benefits from an exchange of ideas for prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers. At a NNHIC Learning Session in July, a story board on pressure ulcer initiatives at St. Francis took second place for creativity in a peer-judged contest. The NNHIC is sponsored by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "We and the 50 other member facilities of NNHIC do quality improvement, but with a twist," said Ann Hower, RN, quality coordinator for St. Francis. "Rather than focus on extended research, we seek to make small, practical and rapid changes that add up to positive results." For example, St. Francis implemented a multi-disciplinary approach to pressure ulcer prevention and treatment. Now, nursing assistants and therapists, as well as nurses, check residents for signs of ulcer formation. Dietitians join treatment efforts, providing special protein drinks that help treat skin breakdowns. "We've made our entire staff more aware of skin issues, which leads to earlier intervention and treatment," said Hower. St. Francis also introduced objective assessments to gauge residents' risk for pressure ulcers and evaluate healing. "We assign numerical values to risk or healing, which helps us take appropriate action for each resident," Hower said. Using software provided by the NNHIC, St. Francis' shares ideas with others in the collaborative and uploads data on healing rates and other important indicators. NNHIC will aggregate the data for a National Outcomes Congress to be held in October. St. Francis is also in the process of compiling its own outcomes data. "The NNHIC is composed of long-term care facilities trying various techniques to prevent and treat pressure ulcers, and that makes a great exchange of knowledge about what works and what doesn't," said Hower. "Our staff is very open to trying ideas that we get from the collaborative, because they know it is for the good of our residents." For more information on pressure ulcer prevention and treatment initiatives at St. Francis, contact Ann Hower at