By Amy Crowley
Veterans who struggle to fight for our freedom abroad often continue to struggle once they return home – typically fighting physical or mental illnesses.
Caring for our Veterans is vitally important to the health of families and communities. The Cincinnati VA Medical Center’s mission is to provide Veterans with the highest quality healthcare. Informaticist and clinical application specialist Jeffrey Griffith, RN has dedicated his career to addressing the unique challenges faced by Veterans, their families, and their care teams.
The Cincinnati VA Medical Center serves 43,000 Veterans within fifteen counties in the Tri-State area. Its quality of care ranks seventh nationally out of 130 VA facilities and in 2018 was given a 5-star rating from the Veterans Health Administration. While many individuals contribute to the success and high-ranking of the Cincinnati VA, Griffith has proven his hard work and dedication to the VA’s mission of changing lives and significantly helping our Veterans in need – with the numbers to prove it.
In particular, over the last year he has provided superior leadership implementing the Telecare Companion Program. Many Veterans either live completely alone and isolated or are alone during the day while other members of the household are at work, they are more susceptible to falls or other medical emergencies. The Telecare Companion Program offers remote video and audio monitoring of Veterans at high risk for falls, self-harm, elopement, self-medication and drug diversion. Recognizing the need and positive benefits of this program, Griffith took the lead and provided the clinical, technical and operational oversight for the development and introduction of the program — making the Cincinnati VA the first adopter of the technology nationwide. He worked diligently with major local partners within the facility as well as regional and national partners and experts outside our area to get it up and running.
During the first six months of the program the Cincinnati VA saw a 61 percent reduction in falls overall, no falls with major or minor injuries and a 66 percent reduction in the need for 1:1 sitters in the medical surgical units and critical care.
“Jeff’s expertise is invaluable to the success of the VA Medical Center,” said Beth Ackerson, chief nurse and chief health informatics officer. “His clinical background gives him a unique understanding of the problems and challenges we face in providing care for our Veterans. Combine that with his technological expertise and you have an individual who can create solutions where others could not. He is a compassionate advocate who works hard for all of the Veterans we care for.”
Griffith’s diligence went beyond the Cincinnati market as well. The Telecare Companion Program has now been shared at VA’s across the nation. This will drive standardization, improve quality, safety and satisfaction; reduce the financial and medico-legal impact of falls and adverse risk events; and lead to better Veteran care across the nation.
While this major project was a huge accomplishment for Griffith and the VA, his ongoing support of all areas of nursing and healthcare and his willingness to adapt to change while embracing lifelong learning has been an invaluable to asset to the medical center and the Veteran community. He has led other major projects both locally and regionally including a software implementation for critical care/anesthesia which improved quality and safety. He has proposed electronic solutions to multiple requests in the critical care environment. He participates in performance improvement and analyzes/interprets data from the national VA Surgical Quality Improvement Program, and he serves on the VISN Informatics Council. He has been consistently recognized for his outstanding work as he continues to embrace innovation and seek opportunities to improve through the use of technology.
The Health Collaborative is proud to honor Jeff Griffith as a FINALIST for the 2019 Inspire Healthcare TECHNOLOGY Award. His efforts to improve lives through the use of technology haVE provided immeasurable contributions to the quality of care provided to our Veterans.
Watch for more articles profiling the work of our award finalists throughout October, as we lead up to the 2019 Inspire Healthcare Dinner and Awards Celebration.