Grant Supports IDD Education for Acute Care Nurses in Western New York

January 21, 2022

The Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing at St. John Fisher College has been awarded a $225,000 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to create and pilot a new educational program for acute care nurses in Western New York.

Logo: Mother Cabrini Health Foundation

Developed in collaboration with Rochester Regional Health, Catholic Health System, and Erie County Medical Center, this first-of-its-kind continuing education program will focus on enhancing the knowledge, skills, and competencies of acute care nurses working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Acute care nurses are highly trained with specialized skills to care for patients with life-threatening conditions or traumatic injuries, and thus play a critical role on hospital health care teams. This new continuing education program will introduce concepts including improving communication between nurses and patients, pain assessment, and understanding behavioral and mental health concerns in patients with IDD, engaging nurses in high-impact learning activities such as case studies, long-form interviews, panel seminars, facilitated discussions, and more.

According to the New York State Department of Health, more than a quarter-million New Yorkers live with IDD, and are more likely to experience longer hospital stays, treatment delays, and inadequate care than people without disabilities. Research also shows that due to a lack of training, some physicians and nurses hold inaccurate beliefs about patients with IDD, resulting in a lower standard of care, explained Dr. Holly Brown, associate director of the Golisano Institute and principal investigator on the grant.

“By educating acute care nurses, we can have a transformative effect on the quality of health care provided, and ultimately decrease complications and readmissions among IDD patients,” Brown added. “The overarching goal is to support person- and family-centered, equitable care for individuals with IDD.”

The educational content will be developed by faculty at the Golisano Institute in collaboration with national experts in the field of IDD care, and individuals with IDD, along with their families, will provide essential guidance based on their health care experiences. Dr. Sarah Ailey, a professor in the Department of Community, Systems, and Mental Health Nursing at Rush University in Chicago, Illinois, will serve as a consultant on the grant. Leaders at Rochester Regional Health, Catholic Health Systems, and Erie County Medical Center will partner to ensure the materials are both impactful and easy to use. The program will be piloted among 80-100 acute care nurses within these health systems to assess the program’s effectiveness in urban, suburban, and importantly, rural settings where health care resources are limited.

The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation is one of the largest foundations in the United States and the largest foundation focused exclusively on New York State. The Foundation’s mission is to provide grants that will improve the health and well-being of vulnerable New Yorkers, bolster the health outcomes of diverse communities, eliminate barriers to care, and bridge gaps in health services.

The Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing at St. John Fisher College was founded in 2018 with support from Tom Golisano and the Golisano Foundation.