Monday, January 27, 2014 - World-Class Elder Care, Close to Home



This story appears in the Winter 2014 issue of Heart to Heart, which can be found online by clicking here

COVINGTON - St. Tammany Parish Hospital’s embrace of an evidence-based model of nursing care for elderly patients has earned it a distinction shared by some of the nation’s best-known hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic.

STPH has earned NICHE designation from the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University’s College of Nursing.

NICHE, which stands for Nurses Improving Care for Health System Elders, is the only national geriatric nursing program that addresses the needs of patients 65 and older.

STPH is one of seven Louisiana hospitals to achieve the designation and the only such facility on the Northshore. Hospitals that earn NICHE designation undergo rigorous assessment of their clinical practices.

Elderly patients are at a higher risk of danger from falls to overmedication. They are also the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. patient population. At STPH, they made up 51 percent of inpatient admissions in the first quarter of 2013.

“The patient population is changing, so how we practice nursing is changing with it,” said Ellie Lomzenski RN, an STPH clinical educator.

NICHE protocols are proven to reduce hospital readmissions and shorten inpatient stays among older patients.

The larger goal, however, is to improve the health of elderly patients so they can return home — and remain there — after an inpatient stay.

“This is about increasing independence,” said Louise Dill CRRN, NICHE coordinator at STPH.

Five STPH nurses also participated in NICHE leadership training, another requirement of the process and one funded by the St. Tammany Hospital Foundation.

A NICHE designation also gives STPH access to the latest, research-driven geriatric protocols. The hospital is using those findings as part of ongoing assessment of its nursing protocols, from how to best prevent bladder infections among older patients to helping them regain mobility.

NICHE designation also is enhancing the skills of STPH nursing assistants, with 44 nursing assistants becoming NICHE-certified Geriatric Patient Care Associates in 2013.

“They are often the eyes and ears of doctors and patients’ families,” said Karen Seal RN, an STPH clinical educator. 

Information on supporting STPH, including education initiatives, is available by contacting Charley Strickland of the St. Tammany Hospital Foundation at (985) 898-4141 or


A full-service acute care facility committed to providing world-class healthcare and the latest technology, St. Tammany Parish Hospital delivers today’s life-improving procedures with the utmost care to area residents with emphasis on wellness, preventive care and disease management close to home. STPH is a self-supporting not-for-profit community hospital; it receives no tax funding.