Brunson tapped for IHL diversity educator award

Brunson tapped for IHL diversity educator award

Dr. Claude Brunson, a long-time University of Mississippi Medical Center faculty member, advisor to the Vice Chancellor and the first African American to head the state medical association, received the 2015 Diversity Educator of the Year award Wednesday from the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. 

Brunson was selected for the honor from among 9 other nominees from each of the IHL's campuses, the Medical Center and the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine.   The annual event coincides with Black History Month. 

In nominating Brunson, UMMC Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs James E. Keeton described him as "one of the most influential people in our state's health-care industry, both in an official capacity and behind the scenes. He is a major force for building bridges between the white and black communities and especially within the physician community.  He has also been one of the most effective people in Mississippi at building sustainable approaches to delivery of health services to the underserved." 

Brunson is known as the holder of several "firsts" at UMMC - the first African-American department chair and the first minority chief of staff, for example.  Last summer he became president of the Mississippi State Medical Association, the first African American to do so in its 159-year history. 

He has also been instrumental in the success of programs such as Healthy Linkages, a seven-year-old partnership between UMMC, the state health department, and Mississippi's network of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) that finds a medical home for patients seeking primary care in the hospital emergency department. 

In accepting the award, Brunson told the IHL trustees that their commitment to diversity in the state's public higher education system makes a positive difference.   

"One of the strengths of Mississippi is the diversity of its people," Brunson said.  "This diversity enriches higher education and contributes to the capacity that our students develop for living in a multicultural and interdependent world." 

"We as educators have to be the example to our students of strength through diversity.  We must be  the examples of what we preach and teach.  In every sense of the word, it makes our institutions and our nation stronger." 

Brunson is a graduate of the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham.  He completed a residency in anesthesiology at UMMC.  He later earned a master's degree in clinical health sciences here and is a graduate of the leadership course for physician executives offered by Harvard Medical School.  

A veteran of the U.S. Navy, he joined the UMMC faculty in the Department of Anesthesiology in 1991 and became professor and chairman of the department in 2002.  In 2009, he stepped down from his administrative role in anesthesiology to join the Vice Chancellor's staff but continues to practice one day per week. 

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, associate vice chancellor for health affairs, introduced Brunson at the event, describing him as a person who "builds relationships with ease and grace and humor." 

"I have been around in higher education long enough, thank goodness, to see diversity move from something we need to do to something that equals innovation and excellence, and Claude embodies that," she said. 

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Patient falls: First predict, then prevent

Patients on registered nurse Flora Green's floor have something to look at when they're lying in bed: A sign on the ceiling that tells them not to get up without asking for help, because they could fall. 

They may have an alarm on their bed that sounds when they try to leave, sit up, or even roll over, said Green, a nurse educator on the Adult Hospital's 4 North. And, they might have a 4-inch-thick floor mat leading from the side of their bed to the bathroom door, a patient's most-traveled stretch. 

They have a nurse's eyes on them at least once an hour as part of patient rounding, and signs posted next to their door alert staff if they're at risk for a fall.

UMMC's 900-plus nurses dedicated to adult patient care take a variety of precautions to prevent falls - and that combination of safeguards is about to get a lot better.

On March 2, Green and her fellow nurses will begin using the Hester Davis Falls Risk Assessment Scale, a falls prevention care plan developed and validated at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The plan, which integrates with the Medical Center's Epic health record system, is named for Amy Hester and Dees Davis, veteran UAMS nurses who developed it.

Known more simply as the HD Scale, it aims to predict anticipated physiological falls in adult patients in a hospital setting. The program was borne out of UAMS' need to address a previous dismal record on patient falls. 

"It's a better assessment tool for those who are a fall risk," Green said. "It will make a big difference in honing in on areas that might not have gotten as much attention through our current system."

How it works: A nurse details, in either an electronic or paper format, patient information such as the person's age, any physical or mental disabilities, or medications that could cause confusion or dizziness. The HD Scale produces an individualized care plan for the patient that predicts the chance of falls. The plan includes interventions, such as bed alarms or signage warning staff the patient is a fall risk, that are tailored to the patient based on his level of risk and additional physiological or environmental factors.

"This is a major step up from the current falls prevention program," said registered nurse Michelle Burns, UMMC nursing workforce specialist and interim director of the Office of Clinical Excellence/Hospital Education.

"We're in a health-care environment where we really need to take advantage of every opportunity to provide better quality of care," she said. "This is a nurse-driven initiative, and nurses are saying, 'We have falls, and we don't like it.' Nurses want to work in a place where they feel safe, and have the equipment and resources to provide good patient care." 

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Patient falls: First predict, then prevent

Strategic plan event, Common Reading project among week's activities

Strategic plan event, Common Reading project among week's activities

A number of interesting events is scheduled for the upcoming week at the Medical Center.


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