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Wednesday, July 6, 2022 78°F New York

Impact Challenge Update: Six Months Later, Here’s How the Five Final Round Teams Are Doing

Last year, VNSNY held its first-ever VNSNY Impact Challenge. The competition culminated in a final round last September, where five teams of VNSNY employees from across the organization presented their proposals on how to address a health disparity in the community to an expert panel. To view the video of the final round VNSNY Impact Challenge presentations, click here.

In the end, the panel was so impressed by all five VNSNY Impact Challenge presentations that they decided to provide funding to each team. Since then, the VNSNY Impact Challenge team members have been working to make their ideas a reality.

So how are the five teams doing with their health disparity proposals? Click on the links below for an update on each team’s progress to date:

PROJECT UPDATES

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Expanding VNSNY’s Nurse Residency to Serve Health Care Needs in the Bronx

The Team:

  • Monica Cayemitte, Clinical Field Manager
  • Elizer Cooper-Audain, Associate Vice President, Education and Development
  • Yvonne Eaddy, Vice President, Regional Patient Care Service
  • Lawrence Gomes, Student Intern, Financial Planning and Analysis
  • Abel Guan, Senior Financial Analyst, Financial Planning and Analysis
  • Larry Lepelstat, Associate Vice President, Finance & Business Operations
  • Dian Traisci-Marandola, Director, Clinical Development
  • Zachary Saliterman, Financial Analyst, Financial Planning and Analysis
  • Executive Sponsor: Tracy Dodd, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer

The Team’s Health Disparity Proposal:

Expand VNSNY’s nurse residency initiative by hiring additional 20 nursing school graduates as nurse residents who will provide direct care to underserved Bronx residents.

How the Team Is Doing:

  • The team anticipates it will meet its initial goal of employing 10 new nurse residents by October 2022. Monica Cayemitte, Clinical Field Manager, will administer the expanded program.
  • To grow its pipeline of nurse resident candidates, the team has met with representatives of five nursing schools: Pace University, NYU, SUNY, Grand Canyon University and Adelphi. All five have expressed interest in partnering with VNSNY.
  • Several of these nursing schools have also invited the team to make classroom presentations on VNSNY and career opportunities in community nursing and home care.
  • Clinical Education and Operations has developed a four-day class of presentations supported with evidence-based care articles that we began offering to Adelphi BSN students in April of 2022.
  • The ELT has established a Clinical Development–Career Center to increase our pipeline of clinical talent through a culture of learning that engages students, attracts new graduates, and advances employees up the clinical ladder. The Center aligns our people and processes to operate as one VNSNY in order to attract and retain talent. Our areas of focus are:
    • Engage students and support their journey to become VNSNY employees.
    • Support staff as they climb the clinical ladder. For example, from: LPN to RN; HHA to LPN or therapy assistant; ADRN to BSN; SW to LMSW.

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Delivering Medical Nutrition Therapy to Bedbound New Yorkers

The Team:

  • Valarie Brockington, Clinical Field Manager, Home Care
  • Tameka McCabe, Clinical Director, Quality Care Management
  • Executive Sponsor: Andria Castellanos, Executive Vice President and Chief of Provider Services

The Team’s Health Disparity Proposal:

Improve nutrition for bedbound New York City residents by providing them Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) that combines guidance from a clinical nutritionist with care from specially trained home health aides.

How the Team Is Doing: This team did not get funding for their proposal itself, but rather to explore what it will take to get this program off the ground.

  • The team has been exploring possible ways to offer MNT as an option to residents of the Brownsville community in Brooklyn.
  • To date, the team has identified a number of program components and is currently finalizing the program’s eligibility criteria and outcome parameters.
  • One important challenge the team encountered was the discovery that a MNT program could not be added to VNSNY Home Care’s operating certificate because such a program would not be billable under CMS guidelines. To address this, the team met with an external vendor who, under that vendor’s model of care, could potentially manage the MNT program for VNSNY and bill CMS and other managed care payors for its services.

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Connecting Low-Income Seniors with Outpatient Mental Health Treatment

The Team:

  • Susan Clayton Meyer, Project Manager, Bronx Geriatric Programs, Behavioral Health
  • Evelyn Pozo, Mental Health Specialist II, Behavioral Health
  • Executive Sponsor: Dan Savitt, President and CEO

The Team’s Health Disparity Proposal:

Increase outpatient mental health treatment access for low-income seniors by expanding VNSNY’s Geriatric Mental Health Initiative in the Bronx and providing subsidized co-pays and transportation assistance to appointments. The program’s goals include receiving 20 internal referrals a month; gathering outcome data that shows a positive impact on overall health for the older adults served; and creating a best practice behavioral health service model that can be incorporated throughout VNSNY.

How the Team Is Doing:

  • A new outreach team member was hired and has begun expanding community events, while Susan and Evelyn are providing collaborative workshops with the Impact Challenge’s Connect2Well team.
  • With support from the Behavioral Health executive team, the program has implemented a new AWARDS/Foothold electronic medical record (EMR) system to track patient outcomes, which launched on March 31st.
  • The program team has met and shared data assessments with the CMO, CHOICE, and VNSNY Home Care; they plan to provide follow-up project presentations to the CMO and Home Care teams in April, with CHOICE to follow.
  • The program team has conferred with VNSNY’s Legal Department on the best approach to providing funding for patient transportation and co-pay assistance for needed mental health treatment.
  • The program team is creating a model for developing a sustainable behavioral health care service product for older adults within VNSNY as a whole, with the idea to expanding this model to all the community areas VNSNY serves.

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Using Community Engagement to Help New Yorkers Access VNSNY’s Health Services and Health Plans

The Team:

  • Melissa Henry, Community Relations Manager, Government Affairs
  • Veronica Torres, Community Relations Coordinator, Government Affairs
  • Executive Sponsor: Sue Caputo, Senior Vice President, Business Development

The Team’s Health Disparity Proposal:

Establish Connect2Well—an extension of the VNSNY HOPE program—and partner with Community Collaborations in implementing community outreach and patient navigation services to improve access to VNSNY Hospice, Home Care, Behavioral Health and CHOICE Health Plans among the communities of Harlem and the Bronx. Connect2Well is measuring its success through the following metrics: 1. Referrals; 2. Admissions; 3. Engagement Events; 4. Collaboration with Hospice/Home Care/Behavioral Health and CHOICE.

How the Team Is Doing:

  • Since its launch in January, the Connect2Well team has hosted meetings with VNSNY leaders in CHOICE, Home Care and Behavioral Health to provide an overview of the Connect2Well goals of addressing health disparities in Harlem and the Bronx.
  • Building on the work of the HOPE Program, Connect2Well has advanced relationships with key stakeholders and consumers in the Harlem and Bronx communities, working with HOPE faith-leader consultants to connect with 20 faith-leaders and community-based organizations in Harlem and the Bronx around increasing access to VNSNY services.
  • In another important step, the HOPE Program introduced the Connect2Well program at its February 18th “HOPE Heals-Faith Empowers Symposium,” which brought together more than 40 community stakeholders to address critical health disparity issues. This event also provided an opportunity for community leaders to meet VNSNY leadership, including President and CEO Dan Savitt.
  • In addition, Connect2Well program manager Veronica Torres has met with 7 faith leaders and their health navigators to design other education and engagement events in the community.
  • To support the program, the Connect2Well team created a framework for referrals and data tracking, which should be operational in 4 to 5 months, as well as an evaluation form for its education and engagement events.
  • Connect2Well’s approach has already generated referrals to multiple parts of
  • Positive reaction to the program is now leading the team to expand its geographic goals, with the eventual aim of being active in all 5 boroughs of New York City.

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Supporting Family Caregivers of Patients with Dementia with the DECLARE Tool

The Team:

  • Julia Burgdorf, Research Scientist, VNSNY Center for Home Care Policy & Research
  • David Russell, Research Scientist, VNSNY Center for Home Care Policy & Research
  • Executive Sponsor: Tim Peng, Chief Data Analytics Officer

The Team’s Health Disparity Proposal:

Study the needs of family caregivers assisting relatives with dementia and use these findings to develop Dementia Caregivers’ Link to Assistance and Resources (DECLARE), a self-assessment tool that helps caregivers communicate their support needs to VNSNY clinicians and suggests next steps for clinicians in order to link caregivers with appropriate support resources.

How the Team Is Doing:

  • The team has completed 27 research interviews with dementia caregivers out of a proposed target of 30 interviews, has developed a coding template for analyzing these interviews, and is now coding. This process has been facilitated by the team’s ability to harness existing Research Center infrastructure, including existing processes for identifying and recruiting eligible caregivers.
  • VNSNY Impact Challenge funding has been essential to the project, allowing a research assistant to do outreach and scheduling and a team of experienced researchers to conduct the interviews and analyze data.
  • The program is currently on track to meet its proposed timeline of having a DECLARE prototype available for VNSNY Home Care to use by the end of July, and is actively preparing an NIH grant submission (due June 12th) to fund pilot testing of DECLARE.
  • The team reports that one key challenge has been getting caregivers to speak about their own needs, rather than those of their loved one; it has responded by revising interview questions to emphasize focusing on the caregiver’s individual needs.
  • Once DECLARE is developed and launched, the team intends to gather survey data from caregivers to understand how the tool affects satisfaction related to provider communication, and will also use Electronic Medical Record (EMR) data to measure the tool’s potential impact on patient outcomes, including discharge to the community and hospitalizations.