Section: Clara Maass Medical Center News

Clara Maass Medical Center Awarded NICHE Designation for Elderly Care


Clara Maass is in the Forefront of Elder Care

Clara Mass Medical Center, a RWJBarnabas Health facility, has been awarded designation as a NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) Hospital in recognition of its commitment to Elder Care excellence. The designation was awarded by NICHE program administrators at the New York University College of Nursing following a rigorous program evaluation of the current state and future goals of the hospital’s NICHE program.

“The NICHE designation signals our dedication to providing patient-centered care for older adult patients,” said Mary Ellen Clyne, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer at Clara Maass Medical Center. “Through our participation in the NICHE program — a leading elder care nursing program — we are able to offer evidence-based, interdisciplinary approaches that promote better outcomes, positive experiences, and improved care for older adults. This leads to greater satisfaction rates for patients, their families and staff.”

As part of the NICHE leadership training program, a team of nurses developed a vision, short- and long-term goals, and an action plan with goals on caring for the elderly patients at Clara Mass Medical Center. The action plan outlines what patients in the elderly care program at Clara Maass can expect, including: an interdisciplinary team that understands the unique aspects of caring for older adults; staff promotes independence, emphasizes safety, provides culturally-sensitive support and individualized care to prevent functional decline and depression.

“We are proactive in caring for our patients’ physical and mental well-being. Nationally, healthcare costs for older adults are three to five times more than for those under age 65,” said Lea Rodriguez, MAS, BS, RN, Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer at Clara Maass Medical Center. “According to NICHE, functional decline occurs in 20 to 40 percent of all older adults during hospitalization nationwide. Incidence of minor depression is seen in about 25 percent of hospitalized older adults.”

In 2013, CMMC established a Hospital Elder Life Program (H.E.L.P.) to provide additional attention to care for senior citizens who are admitted to the hospital. The purpose of the Hospital Elder Life Program is to prevent delirium and maintain or improve physical and cognitive functioning using companionship and therapeutic activities, such as range of motion exercises, early ambulation, interactive games, relaxation sessions and music therapy. We are grateful that The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey has provided a generous grant to support the H.E.L.P. Program and the NICHE training.

“Clara Maass Medical Center shows a tremendous commitment to meet the most critical challenge of our times - quality care of older adults,” says Barbara Bricoli, executive director, NICHE, New York University College of Nursing. “Their dedication to drive continuous improvement processes and enhance care marks them as leaders in the field.”

About Clara Maass Medical Center
Located in Belleville, NJ, Clara Maass Medical Center, a RWJBarnabas Health facility, provides a complete continuum of care to residents of northern New Jersey. Clara Maass’ centers and services include: The Health and Wellness Center, Nuclear Medicine, The Cancer Center at Clara Maass, Adult Cardiac Services including Diagnostic Services, Cardiac Catheterization, Elective and Emergency Angioplasty and Rehabilitation Services, The Pain Management Center, The Joint & Spine Institute, a Vascular Center, Same Day Surgery, The Wound Center at Clara Maass, The Center for Sleep Disorders, The Bariatric Surgery Center, Rehabilitation Services, The Eye Surgery Center, Maternity Services and Parent Education, Pediatrics, Video EEG Testing, The Infusion Center, Radiation Oncology services, a Radiology Department, an Emergency Department, and Robotic Surgery. Clara Maass is an eight-time recipient of the “A” Hospital Safety score from The Leap Frog Group, an independent national nonprofit group measuring hospital safety and quality. For a physician referral or more information about Clara Maass, call 1-888-724-7123 or visit

NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) is an international program designed to help healthcare facilities improve the care of older adults. The vision of NICHE is for all patients 65-and-over to be given sensitive and exemplary care. The mission of NICHE is to provide principles and tools to stimulate a change in the culture of healthcare facilities to achieve patient-centered care for older adults. NICHE, based at NYU College of Nursing, consists of over 660 healthcare facilities in the U.S., Canada, Bermuda and Singapore. Follow us on Twitter @NICHEProgram.

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