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Doug Harris

Yolanda Fleming

Multidisciplinary team brings highly-specialized care to those suffering life-ending or serious illnesses

The Joint Commission's Advanced Certification Program for Palliative Care has granted its Advanced Certification to the Palliative Care Program at Trinitas Regional Medical Center. The medical center is now one of five such programs in the state that have earned this status.

Trinitas' multidisciplinary team, which includes medical specialists, nurses, pain management specialists, chaplains, social workers respiratory/ physical/speech therapists, nutritionists and others as needed, has been certified as one that demonstrates exceptional patient and family-centered care and optimizes the quality of life for patients with serious illness.

Gary S. Horan, President and Chief Executive Officer, praises the work of the team, noting, "Their commitment to achieving this Advanced Palliative Care Certification is a tribute to their dedication to these patients and families who need this highly-specialized compassionate care."

Valerie Ramsberger, RN, MSN, ACHP, who initiated, developed and directed the Palliative Care Program, provides insight into the growing effectiveness of such care, explaining that, "In recent years, palliative care has become a specialty that melds the unique skills of a broad spectrum of healthcare professionals dedicated to relieving pain and other symptoms in the most challenging of circumstances. All are committed to easing the physical and emotional pain of patients and their families."

Ms. Ramsberger began the qualifying process for Joint Commission certification process through intense preparation by participating in collaborative programs designed to strengthen palliative care in the acute care setting. She participated in collaborative activities with the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), and the New Jersey Hospital Association which presented new preparation opportunities to their member hospitals.

With the collaboration of Debbie Durand, RN, APN, Critical Care CNS and other core team members, Ms. Ramsberger undertook the thorough fact-finding and assessments procedures needed to secure Joint Commission certification. During weekly multi-disciplinary team meetings that began in 2011, the team started to implement process changes at Trinitas to prepare for the Joint Commission Certification Survey that took place in mid-2013.

Upon the recent retirement of Ms. Ramsberger as Director of Palliative Care at Trinitas, Geraldine "Magie" Cruz, RN, MSN, CCRN, has succeeded her. Ms. Cruz, an ICU staff member since 1988, holds an MSN from the College of Saint Elizabeth. She also serves on the medical center's Ethics Committee, Co-Chair of its Nursing Research Council, and as an adjunct faculty member at the Trinitas School of Nursing.

Since 2011, The Joint Commission's Advanced Certification Program for Palliative Care has recognized hospital inpatient programs that are exemplary in providing palliative care that addresses a patientís physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs and facilitates patient autonomy, access to information and choice.


About Trinitas Regional Medical Center
Trinitas Regional Medical Center (TRMC), a major center for comprehensive health services for those who live and work in Central New Jersey, is a Catholic teaching medical center sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth in partnership with Elizabethtown Healthcare Foundation. With 10 Centers of Excellence across the continuum of care, Trinitas has distinguished itself in cardiology, cancer care, behavioral health, renal care, nursing education, diabetes management, wound healing and sleep medicine.

Posted: August 15, 2014

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