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Calvary Features Acute Care, Cancer Care Technician Program

Those who have never visited Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. N.Y., may believe it’s a place where patients with advanced cancer come to live out their last days. Not so, said Michael Impollonia, RN, MSN, NE-BC, director of nursing. “We are an acute-care hospital that provides hospice services,” he said.

Calvary is a 200-bed, private-room hospital that doesn’t have an ED or OR, and the waiting area in the admitting department is large enough for a single wheelchair and family member or two, since the wait time is minimal, Impollonia said. “All admissions are scheduled and paperwork for patients is already prepared when they arrive,” he said.

Calvary also is home to the Center for Curative and Palliative Care, an ambulatory service dedicated to improving the quality of life of those who suffer from chronic wounds.

Flor Celizo-Vencer, RN, left, mother, and Giselle Vencer, RN, daughter, work together at Calvary Hospital.

Since the center’s opening 12 years ago, staff have been successful in treating and caring for chronic wounds. “We’ve become experts over the years,” Impollonia said.

The center’s Palliative Care Institute keeps staff up-to-date on best practices and new innovations in wound healing through its training programs and seminars in caring for chronic wounds.

The restraint-free hospital receives patients from facilities in New York City’s five boroughs, including hospitals such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where it has outreach nurses onsite, and agencies such as the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. The average length of stay is 26 days and not all patients are terminal. “Sometimes they plateau and are discharged either to another level of care or on to home care,” Impollonia said. Calvary at Home offers comprehensive home care, hospice and nursing home hospice services to the same patient population as Calvary Hospital.

Cancer Care Technician Program

Proof Calvary nurses become family, Theresa Biney Amissah, RN, clinical care coordinator, started her journey at Calvary as a nursing aide.

The most unique feature about Calvary Hospital is the creation of its Cancer Care Technician, or CCT program, for which Calvary holds the patent. “No one else does it and no one else can do it,” Impollonia said.

Through the program, the hospital trains and employs clinical staff who are specifically prepared to care for cancer patients. Staff are hired as nursing aides and go through a rigorous eight months of training that includes clinical and classroom instruction.

“Overseen by Marilyn Crockett, RN, patient service manager, our CCTs help patients with [activities of daily living], but they also perform complex dressing changes and tube feedings,” Impollonia said. “They’re the backbone of our delivery care model.”

These paraprofessionals, who are part clinical staff and part staff development personnel, can then go on to receive CCT II designation and train others in the program. Calvary’s patient care model has extended to other hospitals and facilities across the U.S. and the world. “We’ve had clinicians come from Turkey, Israel and Ireland,” Impollonia said.

Like the patients and families who benefit from Calvary’s compassionate care, staff quickly become enamored by the genuine caring that permeates throughout each of the eight patient units. Staff nurse Giselle Vencer, RN, has been at Calvary for a little less than two years, and says she wasn’t sure at first if it was for her. She was fresh out of nursing school and her mother, Flor Calizo-Vencer, RN, also a nurse at Calvary, suggested she apply. “She said I’d get great experience here,” Vencer said.

Patients have access to an onsite beauty salon where they are pampered by patient service manager Marilyn Lenore Aquanno who works in the salon each week.

Her mom was right. Almost two years later, Vencer says she loves her job. “There is never a dull day,” she said. “My shift starts at 7 a.m. We begin each morning with a circle prayer before we check charts and make sure patients are comfortable. Even when I’m off, families will sometimes keep in touch just to keep me updated about their loved one.”

Calvary nurses become like family. “People come with the intention of staying maybe one or two years and end up staying 20 or 30,” Impollonia said. Such was the case with Theresa Biney Amissah, RN, clinical care coordinator, who started her journey at Calvary 20 years ago as a nursing aide.

Amissah admits she will do anything to lighten her patients’ spirits. “I sing and dance for them,” she said. “If I have to hold their hand and pray with them, I do that, too.” Caring for terminal patients is a rich and rewarding experience, Amissah said, and it makes one more introspective. “You get major satisfaction from minor victories,” she said.


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By | 2020-04-15T13:14:32-04:00 April 4th, 2011|Categories: New York/New Jersey Metro, Regional|0 Comments

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