HSS’s Infusion Therapy Unit, created in 1994 exclusively for the care of rheumatology patients, was recently recognized in the book, Infusion Centers Across America: Advancing Options for the Care of Rheumatoid Arthritis, published by Roche. The first and largest in the country, the HSS Infusion Therapy Unit was featured among 10 other care facilities for its advances in the treatment of RA.
In a quote from the book, Linda Leff, RN-C, nurse manager of the HSS Infusion Therapy Unit, declared: “We give personal attention to each patient. The delivery of an infusion is more than a task. We administer the medication with skill, care, compassion and with a heavy dose of education.”
The HSS unit is staffed entirely by R.N.s: Peggy O’Donohue, Sarah O’Hare, Maggie Pabilona, Kristl Ramjattan and Kathy Smith. “The nurses who care for the HSS rheumatology patients are the heart and soul of this unit,” noted Linda, who has been at HSS for 20 years. “Our unit was up and running long before today’s new age intravenous biologic drugs.”
“Our infusion center is world-class and a model because of the extraordinary professionalism and caring of our nurses whose dedication to the patient, their comfort and a better and longer life is second to none,” said Stephen A. Paget, M.D., physician-in-chief and chairman of the Division of Rheumatology.
Infusion centers were created to provide intravenous drugs to patients without having to hospitalize them. The HSS Infusion Therapy Unit enables rheumatology patients to receive I.V. drugs as outpatients. “The nurse-patient relationships developed here provide patients with counseling, teaching and reassurance,” said Ms. Leff.
The nurses enjoy the team approach to treating patients. “Our team at HSS doesn’t just treat a disease. Nurses, doctors, social workers, nutritionists and physical therapists all work together on behalf of the patient. The patient is the center of the health-care team and the most important aspect of the team,” continued Ms. Leff.
The nurses assess the current health status of the patients, educate them about their disease, the infusion drug they will be receiving, as well as possible side effects from the medication. The HSS Infusion Therapy Unit has automatic I.V. pumps and automatic blood pressure pumps. These are prominent items on every nurse’s “wish list.”
The unit telephones each patient twice: the day before the scheduled infusion and the day following the infusion visit. “We are all sensitive to the demands of everyone’s work schedules,” said Ms. Leff. “We are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, so we don’t interfere too much with our patients’ jobs.”
Every patient has a private telephone, free internet access and their own TV in the unit. Lunch, or a snack, is also provided to all of the patients.
The nurses in the HSS Infusion Therapy Unit are dedicated to the care of patients with rheumatic diseases. “We meet people at every stage of their illness. We listen to patients talk about the good days and the really bad days,” Ms. Leff said.
“At the beginning stages, patients are often frightened and at the worst stage of their health. They are trying to find a treatment regimen that works. Our role as nurses allows us to see patients through to where they are feeling better, and to be a part of a patient’s progress,” Ms. Leff continued.