A UI College of Nursing and Oaknoll collaboration helps residents, employees, and students.
Finding time to visit a health care clinic can be challenging for anyone, let alone those in retirement communities. Kim Bergen-Jackson (06BSN, 08MSN, 13PhD), administrator at Oaknoll, discovered an innovative way to address this problem. In 2015, inspired by a conference in Indianapolis, Bergen-Jackson proposed a clinic at Oaknoll that would serve both its residents and employees and be staffed by the UI College of Nursing faculty practice. The onsite clinic would help counter rising health care insurance premiums and better serve Oaknoll’s residents, especially those with limited mobility.The UI College of Nursing already had success serving employees at a clinic at ACT’s corporate office in Iowa City and was on board with this advanced collaboration. The Oaknoll clinic opened in February 2016 and supplements its Life Plan Community by offering residents and employees an onsite provider to alleviate travel concerns, time away from work, and co-pays.
Oaknoll resident Joyce Carman-Baldus moved to the retirement community in good health but later underwent a major surgery. During her recovery, she spent time in Oaknoll’s Short Stay area before moving back into an apartment there and meeting with a nurse practitioner, who was able to access her UI Hospitals and Clinics records and communicate with Carman-Baldus’ surgeon and internal medicine doctor to meet her needs. Carman-Baldus has received attentive and personal care through it all and describes it as a seamless experience. “It’s the interconnectedness of it all and the openness to suggestions,” she says. “If [the Oaknoll clinic] can do it—they will. Everyone should have access to this kind of health care. There’s help at every turn and every bend.”
The clinic also serves as a teaching site for the UI College of Nursing’s graduate and nurse practitioner students, as well as its undergraduate students who complete a geriatric practicum there with the nursing staff. “It’s an innovative way of delivering health care to the frail elderly and to business employees,” says Jane Stickney (00MSN, 12DNP), director of faculty practice in the UI College of Nursing. “It’s just another way for nursing to engage with the community at the level of the people who need the care. We go to them instead of them having to enter into a very complex health care system.”
While these partnerships are becoming more prevalent on the East and West Coasts and in areas with larger retirement communities, they’re relatively rare in the Midwest. And the benefits go well beyond time and money. UI College of Nursing faculty member Krista Ford (11MSN, 13DNP) serves as a nurse practitioner at Oaknoll and says the partnership also builds a relationship with patients and staff and fosters health promotion. “They’re comfortable talking to me, whether it’s for themselves or for a resident, to ask questions and get advice,” she says. “Not only am I looking at an acute or chronic disease, but how can we prevent this from occurring. How we can make changes in their diet; what we can do with their exercise.” Ford also led a dementia training at the clinic to educate Oaknoll’s staff. “They’re always open to ideas and how they can improve their processes and care,” she says.
Whether it’s saving a trip to the doctor’s office for an Oaknoll resident or employee, or providing a UI College of Nursing student hands-on experience, the partnership has proven to be productive for all involved. “Working with Oaknoll helps us meet all of our missions,” says Stickney. “To educate, to serve the community, and to provide direct nursing care.”