Nursing at Matheny is a challenging and rewarding experience. Our focus is on maintaining patient wellness so they can benefit fully from participation in our therapy, education, recreation and community programs. We follow a unit based model of care, with a nurse manager overseeing the overall functioning of each residential unit. Each patient has a primary nurse who coordinates all his/her care needs. Our nurses and nurse managers work closely with our paraprofessional care staff for on-going communication and teaching about each individual patient. We maintain close contact with families and acknowledge their importance as a valued member of the healthcare team.
Due to the many associated illnesses and needs which go along with a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Lesch-Nyhan and other developmental disabilities, Matheny nurses have to be knowledgeable and competent in a broad spectrum of practice applications. Our patients often present respiratory, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, neurological and orthopedic complications. The potential for development of skin breakdown is high in a population which is primarily non-ambulatory. We take an aggressive approach to the prevention of skin breakdown, and recently received recognition for our low incidence by the NJHA Consortium for Wound Prevention.
The nurse’s role involves a close partnership with the medical staff to provide the best possible care for each patient. Nurses at all levels are active members on the interdisciplinary team, various committees and in the strategic planning process.
Matheny is affiliated with several nursing programs as a teaching site. Raritan Valley Community College selected Matheny to be recognized for its educational contributions to its nursing students in 2007.
Personal Care Services
Matheny’s patients need a maximum amount of assistance in many areas, including eating, transferring, bathing, dressing, oral hygiene and toileting. These functions are carried out by the Personal Care Assistants (PCAs). PCAs complete a month long orientation process with a mentor in preparation for working independently with patients. In addition, they complete the Paraprofessional Career Ladder Curriculum, which consists of 30 classes focusing on insuring a basic understanding of anatomy; the impact of disabilities on the various body systems; medical interventions; and their role in prevention and care provision. Classes are taken weekly over the first year of employment.
PCAs play a unique role in providing for the most basic care of the patients. Matheny strives to maintain consistency in staffing, in order to promote early detection of changes in the patients’ physical or emotional condition. PCAs and patients develop a strong bond of trust and companionship. PCAs are vital members of the interdisciplinary team, and their input and observations are essential for effective care planning.