The Alex & Rita Hillman Foundation, a national organization to improve the lives of patients and their families through nurse-led innovation, recently announced the 2 recipients of the Hillman Innovations in Care Program, a multi-year initiative created to expand leading edge, nursing-driven programs that address the healthcare needs of vulnerable populations. The grantees will each receive a $600,000 three-year grant, and Duke was one of the recipients!
Julia Gamble (right), a nurse practitioner at the Duke Outpatient Clinic, assists with a program to better connect vulnerable patients to primary care and serves on the leadership team with a special focus on collaborations with community partners. Over the past three years, Julia has worked with the Partnership for a Healthy Durham Access to Care Committee to build a community response to the needs of patients who are homeless and in need of medical respite houisng. This led to a 2014-2015 pilot program to provide medical respite to the homeless in Durham implemented by Project Access of Durham County. The program successfully served 18 people, with the majority of referrals coming from DUHS.
Julia and her co-PI, Donna Biederman (left), a faculty member at the Duke School of Nursing, will lead an expansion of the respite pilot with funding from the Hillman Foundation. Over the course of three years a transitional nursing care coordinator and two community health workers will link homeless and housing unstable medically ill patients who are being discharged from DUHS and DRH, the mental health crisis center, or the Durham County Jail with medical/mental health care and services to assist with stabilization including transportation, benefits, and employment training. The goal is to improve the quality of life and overall health of vulnerable populations while also reducing the burden on the health care system. The grant will also fund educational opportunities for nursing — both students and nurses in practice in hospital/community settings — to learn more about the special needs of homeless/housing unstable populations.
“Our team is honored to have been selected out of over 130 applicants by the Hillman Foundation,” says Gamble. “We’re hopeful that providing nursing care coordination with community health worker support to homeless patients with medical needs will improve patient health and positively impact the health system both in terms of costs and job satisfaction for care providers. We’re also looking forward to partnering with our local hospitals and clinics to provide educational opportunities for care providers around care for the homeless.”