Nursing works with hospital to decrease readmissions

The College of Nursing and Health Sciences is starting a new program in partnership with North Oaks Medical Center to help eliminate hospital readmission. Through the Delta Health Coach Internship Program, Dean of the college and professor of nursing Dr. Ann Carruth feels nursing and health sciences students will meet the local healthcare and workforce needs.
"Students from health education and promotion, nursing, social work, counseling and family consumer sciences will work as a team with North Oaks nurses to reach out to recently discharged patients to determine their needs at home," said Carruth.
Though the program is still in its early stages, students who begin the internship program in the fall will work with North Oaks nurses to care for patients at home and help them live healthy.
"For example, they will work with nutrition students to educate about therapeutic diets," said Carruth. "Nursing students might work to record blood pressure and weights, [and] health education and promotion students will coach to motivate them to follow through on medication administration. Exercise scientist students might teach exercises in the home to lose weight."
Project manager Ralph Wood, also professor of health education and promotion, says helping people should be a natural instinct for students in the college.
"The students are going to benefit because they are going to be able to have a one-on-one relationship with their clients," said Wood. "Across the board in our college, we're about people. There's not a degree in our college that isn't about serving people, or helping people. So this is just a natural one-on-one relationship that our students will benefit from."
The importance of this program stems from health issues plaguing American society.
"The biggest health issues right now are diabetes, cardiac disease, lung disease and cancer," said Carruth. "Knowing how to motivate and educate is a key skill that our students can learn to  help translate to the home setting."
The USDA funded the coaching program by a $351,989 grant. Carruth said patients who are most prone to readmission are assigned a health coach.
"Patients discharged with the diagnosis of lung disease, heart disease and stroke are those that have the highest priority of care needs," said Carruth. "However, we will reach out to others in need depending on the number of students and the identification of care needs."
Wood said this is the first program of its kind in Louisiana.  The cutting edge health coaching program will help motivate patients to adhere to the at-home guidelines of their medical regimen. Helping people to adopt heathier behaviors will also save money for North Oaks in the long run, decreasing hospital readmissions.
"People are moved to change behaviors based on relationships they have with people in their lives who motivate them," said Wood. "So they develop intrinsic motivation to help themselves."
The goal in the future is to open it up to more students.
"The long term goals is to expand the number of students who can participate in it," said Wood.
For more information on the Delta Health Coach Program, visit