Health department to expand 'primary nursing' program

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Sat, Mar 15, 2008 - Page 4

The Department of Health (DOH) has decided to expand a popular "primary nursing" program that saves patients money and eases the burden on caregivers by limiting the hours they work.

Primary nursing emphasizes continuity of care by having one caregiver provide complete care for a small group of patients within a hospital's nursing unit for one shift, veering away from the common practice of each patient hiring their own personal caregiver.

The "primary nursing" program has been tested over the past year at Miaoli General Hospital, Hualien General Hospital and Potz General Hospital in Chiayi County, all operated by the DOH, and the reaction has been overwhelmingly favorable, said Kuo Shu-chen (郭淑珍), a head nurse at Miaoli General Hospital.

PROPOSAL SUBMITTED

Based on the success of the program, the DOH submitted a proposal to invest another NT$60 million in it to the Council for Economic Planning and Development so that it is able to provide the service in more hospitals.

The DOH provided NT$1.43 million in subsidies to Miaoli General Hospital during the trial run there last year.

Kuo said the families of patients welcomed the program as a good way to save money, hospital nurses loved it because it helped ease their heavy workload and hospital authorities praised it because it helped reduce the commotion created by the presence of too many caregivers in hospital wards.

PAYING LESS

Under the program, the family of a patient pays only NT$600 per day for a caregiver, who is hired to watch over six patients at a time, compared to the NT$2,000 it normally costs to hire a caregiver who attends to only one patient, Kuo said.

Over the past year, the system has saved the average family of a patient NT$14,000 in caregiver costs, Kuo said.