The palliative care team at Greenville Memorial Hospital has experienced rapid growth in the last four years. From an original interdisciplinary team of 5, we have expanded to a 19-member inpatient team which sees approximately 2,000 consults a year. The role of our palliative care nurse coordinators has been instrumental in facilitating the success of our team. Our three highly-skilled nurse coordinators help our team work efficiently and provide excellent customer service to both our patients and consulting providers.

One of the primary duties of the nurse coordinators is to provide triage and work-up of every new palliative care consult. In addition to contacting the referring provider and determining the primary reason for the consult, the nurses do some basic chart review and, if needed, determine who the patient’s surrogate decision maker is and set up a meeting with the patient’s decision makers. Our nurses are called upon to utilize strong critical thinking skills as they ask questions of consulting providers and triage the urgency of the medical and social situation of new consults. These duties employ our nurse’s excellent clinical judgement and communication skills, and have helped our team develop great rapport with referring providers. Palliative nurses often attend medical rounds and help identify patients who would benefit from palliative care, thus increasing the overall consults the team receives.

The nurses are often the first point of contact for a new patient and/or their family, providing education on the role of the palliative care team, explaining the differences between palliative and hospice care, and helping families become comfortable with receiving support from the palliative team. In a busy hospital environment, the palliative care nurses become a consistent over-the-phone support advocate for families and provide assistance with helping patients and their loved ones navigate the healthcare system. Nurses also provide follow-up phone calls or visits, and can be called on to check symptom management needs of a patient on behalf of busy providers.

Our provider’s patient assignments and appointment calendars are also managed by the nurses, helping make sure that we are utilizing our provider’s time effectively. Daily IDT rounds are led by the nurse coordinators, who maintain spreadsheets with up-to-date details about each patient’s situation. This is essential to helping our busy team remain organized and efficient.

Author

Stephanie Richardson, BSN, MA, CHPN
Palliative Care Nurse Coordinator
Greenville Memorial Hospital
701 Grove Road
Greenville, SC, 29681
(864) 455-4234