Easing hospital transitions

Dr. Kenneth Robey.

Because of their medical complexities, children and adults with complex disabilities find the transition to and from acute care hospitals very difficult. Often hospital staff members are not familiar with the patients and not well prepared to address all of their complex needs.

Two years ago, Matheny received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Jersey Health Initiatives program to help us address this problem. A key element was the appointment of a full-time transition care nurse, who helps provide an unusual degree of interaction between Matheny staff members and acute care hospital staff members.

On Friday, September 6, three Matheny staff members will participate in a conference devoted to this subject. The conference is being held at Morristown Medical Center and is sponsored by MMC and the Northern New Jersey Network of the Developmental Nurses Association. The three Matheny presenters are:

  • Kenneth Robey, Ph.D, director of the Matheny Institute for Research in Developmental Disabilities, who will give the keynote address: “The Health Care Transition for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.”
  • Jeanne Lavelle, BSN, Matheny transition care nurse, who will speak about “Innovations in Care Coordination in Hospitals for Persons with I/DD.”
  • Gaila Call, BSN, CWOCN, Matheny wound, ostomy and continence nurse, who will talk about “Steps That Will Make a Difference During Hospitalization.”

Atlantic Health System, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Somerset Medical Center are Matheny’s partners in the transition program. More information about the conference can be obtained by calling 1-800-247-9580 or emailing dsykes@matheny.org.

Jeanne Lavelle, BSN, transition care nurse.


Improving healthcare for people with disabilities

Do people with disabilities receive the same quality of healthcare as people without disabilities? The answer is “no,” says Kenneth Robey, Ph.D., director of the Matheny Institute for Research.

The reason, says Dr. Robey, at left, is simply lack of training. “Programs at medical schools, nursing schools, dental schools and pharmacy schools have done very little to prepare primary care professionals to serve people with disabilities,” he explains.

Third-year medical students at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School currently rotate through Matheny in an attempt to educate future doctors about how to provide this care. But Matheny realizes this isn’t enough. In 2007, Dr. Robey and Gary E. Eddey, M.D., Matheny’s chief medical officer, began exploring what else was being done around the country. That eventually resulted in the formation of the Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education, which has already raised visibility about this issue.

A major goal of the organization, according to Dr. Robey, who served as president in 2010 and 2011, is to develop “a list of things that healthcare professionals need to know or be able to do that works across all disciplines and disabilities.” A long-term goal, which Dr. Robey admits is a stretch, “is to ensure that every medical school, nursing school and medical training program in the United States has some component to address disability-specific issues.”

For more information on this subject, log onto www.matheny.org, click on “All News” and look for “Preparing Healthcare Professionals to Better Serve People with Disabilities.”