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Haher is NICHE coordinator

ELKINS — For the past 16 years Davis Health System’s Kim Haher has done professionally what she does best — help people.

“You can’t be a nurse without being pretty passionate about caring for people,” Haher said. “Being able to help people is absolutely the sole reason I chose this profession.”

Haher started her career in the clinical decision unit at Davis Health System, before taking a job as a charge nurse on the night shift for the next eight years. After that she moved to the day shift and eventually accepted the position she has now, that of the NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystems Elders) Coordinator for DHS.

NICHE recognizes DHS’s ongoing dedications to improving the quality of care for older adults. DHS’s implementations of system-wide interventions and initiatives demonstrates organizational commitment to high-quality, dignified care for older adult patients.

“The journey with our NICHE program has been a challenging but rewarding experience,” said Haher. “Davis Health System could not have achieved NICHE Senior Friendly status in approximately one year without the combined support and efforts of the DHS administration, the hard work of the nursing staff, and the multidisciplinary team members. Everyone has come together to make all these wonderful improvements to patient care a reality.”

Senior Friendly status is achieved when a member organization implements the NICHE model principles and practices to develop age-friendly care for older adults through staff education and practice improvements. Davis Health System submitted a comprehensive report of their program activities for review by the NICHE faculty, and based on pre-established criteria, the faculty recommended Senior Friendly recognition.

Past projects include extensive staff education. Davis Health System’s staff played a key role in the recognition and development of programs for the ever-growing 65 and older patient population. Nurses are required to take 21 hours of geriatric education, and patient care assistants 11 hours.

Through this education, staff learns that patients 65 and older have different needs and attitudes than the younger patient population.

One of the many NICHE multi-disciplinary programs developed include a free community caregiver class called “Dealing with Dementia.” DMC volunteers make “twiddle muffs” and “activity aprons” specifically designed for out dementia patients.

In October of 2019, the DMC NICHE program presented the first annual Building an Age Friendly Community Conference. This was a one-day professional conference with CEU’s offered. The framework for the age friendly conference consisted of the 4M’s, which are patient-centered and are concerned with patient mobility, mentation, medication and what matters to them.

In 2022, DMC sponsored the second annual Building an Age Friendly Community Conference; however, with COVID-19 and all its restrictions, the conference was held as a Facebook event and had more than 7,800 visits for the virtual conference.

In the first quarter of 2021, 115 nurses and staff from four in-patient units, Family Practice, Puolation Health, and Davis Home Health attended an all-day virtual conference and all attendees received a certification as Dementia Care Specialists.

For the remainder of 2021, the NICHE team will continue its journey toward exemplar status through continued care improvements for the 65 and older population.

“The leadership and staff at Davis Health Systems have demonstrated a tremendous ability to meet the needs of older adults,” said NICHE Executive Director Mattia Gilmartin. “The organization’s capacity to bring together geriatric nursing resources and support to enhance care marks Davis Health System as a rising leader in the field.”

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