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VA Maryland Health Care System


VA Maryland Health Care System Clinicians Snag Top Poster Award

Margaret Kazmierski, MSW, LCSW-C, MSCS, a spinal cord injury coordinator anda social worker, and Lisa M. Mitchell, RN, BSN, CDE, MSNC, a nurse case manager, both working in the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence –East (MSCOE-E) at the VA Maryland Health Care System have won the 2012 Education Poster Award from The Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers at its annual meeting in San Diego. The pair won in the Patient and Family Education category for their poster about nursing and social work collaborations as a way to pioneer patient-centered cared for Veterans with MS. “This is a well deserved recognition for two VA Maryland Health Care System employees who are improving the lives of our Veterans with MS every day,” said Dr. Christopher Bever, director of the MSCOE-E. This is the first time clinicians from the VA Maryland Health Care System have won an award for a poster presentation at this annual conference.

“It is an honor to have a poster selected for presentation, and receiving an award is highly unusual. We’re excited that Margaret and Lisa have been able to shine a positive light on the work being done at the MS Center of Excellence,” said John O’Brien, chief executive of the Social Work Service at the health care system.

The poster, which was selected as the best presentation depicting excellence in patient and family education, demonstrated how collaboration between nurses and social workers can expand patient support and develop preventive programs to address issues such as self-management and psychosocial well-being for those living with MS.

The poster also outlined how their nursing and social work collaboration resulted in recruiting specialty providers, creating a multi-disciplinary MS clinic for Veterans with progressive types of MS, who are then evaluated by various disciplines, rehabilitation psychology and neuropsychology during a 2-hour appointment. The multi-discipline team also conducted a series of classes in which Veterans learn strategies and coping mechanisms for cognitive challenges. Feedback from Veteran patients with MS has been positive in regard to the development and implementation of the patient-centered programs that addressed medical and biophysical factors that impact health outcomes. Their nursing/social work partnership has helped to expand a systemic approach to caring for Veterans with MS. The on-going collaboration illustrated in the poster was categorized under the “Work-in-Progress.”

The MSCoE, established by the Veterans Health Administration in 2003, is committed to serving the health care needs of approximately 40,000 Veterans with MS. The Centers of Excellence are located in Seattle and Portland (MSCoE, West) and Baltimore (MSCoE, East) and are organized around four functional cores, including clinical care, education and training, research and development and informatics and telemedicine. The Centers seek to improve the quality and consistency of health services delivered to Veterans with MS across the country, and they are influencing providers and Veterans using a population-based management model. Essential elements to this model are the availability of a national registry of Veterans who have been diagnosed with MS, the ability to impact services at the point-of-care with electronic medical record tools, and the development of face-to-face and distant education and training options for health professionals and Veterans to facilitate evidence-based delivery of services. Integration of the above elements permits short and long-term assessment of interventions and modification to achieve goals.


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