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For Immediate Release
August 06, 2015

IPFW Nursing and IU School of MedicineFW Collaborate with Parkview on Area Clinic

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Every 12 to 15 seconds an older adult in this country falls. Falls are also among the most common injuries treated in emergency rooms. Parkview's Fall Prevention Clinic, part of the Center on Aging and Health, aims to change those statistics in an ongoing collaboration with the IU School of Medicine (IUSM)–Fort Wayne and Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) Department of Nursing.

Started in April 2014, the center is on the second floor of the Parkview Randallia campus, which was the previous home of Parkview Heart Institute.

The Fall Prevention Clinic is “modeled after a similar concept at the Mayo Clinic, utilizing a multidisciplinary team approach,” said Dr. Fen-Lei Chang, director and associate dean of the IUSM–Fort Wayne (located on the IPFW campus) and a neurologist with Fort Wayne Neurological Center. Chang is also medical director of the Parkview Center on Aging and Health and the Fall Prevention Clinic.

“Falls and fall prevention are increasingly important platforms for healthcare teams to address now and in the future,” according to Michael GeRue, senior vice president, neurosciences, Parkview Health “Since beginning this clinic we have assessed more than 200 patients, all with differing diseases leading to their falls.  Each is unique in the symptoms they present while at the clinic, and each requires a different approach to help reduce their fall risk. The IUSM and IPFW students and team members play a vital role in developing an unique plan of care for each patient.”

“The interdisciplinary team consists of IPFW and IUSM faculty, a pharmacist, a social worker, a physical therapist, a nurse practitioner, and nursing and medical students,” said Dr. Deb Poling, family nurse practitioner and director of graduate nursing programs at IPFW. “The team assesses the patient during the initial clinic visit, eliminating the need for multiple visits. The patient and family then return in about a week for a follow up visit with team members for recommendations on necessary further diagnostic workup, therapies, medications, and prevention strategies.”

Though not every fall results in injury, the older a person is, the greater the risk of injury, even death. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People 85 and older are up to 15 times more likely to sustain hip fractures than individuals under 65. Injuries due to a fall often cause higher medical costs and loss of independence for the patient.

Research shows the more co-existing health problems at the time of a fall, the greater the risk of injury leading to hospitalization or a nursing home. Because falls often have multiple causes ranging from neurological to cardiac to side-effects of medications, the clinic will expand to additional occupational therapy, physical therapy, and nursing students from IUSM–Fort Wayne and IPFW in the near future


One such student, Joyce Nwakanma, has worked at the clinic this past year. "I was the 2015 graduating nurse practitioner student on rotation with the clinic," said Nwakanma. "To these patients, having these interdisciplinary team members represented at the same time meant there was no time lost in additional referrals and scheduling. As one patient puts it, 'I didn’t know I mattered to a lot of people.' I learned from my experience that it takes the entire group of healthcare professionals working as a unified team to keep patients safe. If we prevented just one fall, it was worth it."

There is also future opportunity for university research on patient outcomes from the Fall Prevention Clinic to be conducted with an aim to make necessary healthcare changes and potentially replicate an inter-professional approach in other healthcare settings.

“The Fall Prevention Clinic is very unique in these inter-professional and multi-disciplinary efforts,” said Poling. “There is a great benefit to the local community by the resources and expertise brought to the clinic, and this is an exciting opportunity for our students to work together in real-world healthcare scenarios.”

“The impact of our collaborations within the care team are evident by the strong teamwork and dedication to patients and their families,” said GeRue. “The students have provided another resource to families, helping them better understand how to prevent future falls. This clinic has also taught many of our care providers about the importance of teamwork and interprofessional interactions—without students, the clinic would not be at this level of integration. My hope is that the students who participate in this clinic walk away with that lasting memory as they begin their careers in healthcare.”

For more information on the Parkview Center on Aging and Health and the Fall Prevention Clinic, contact Dr. Chang at changf@ipfw.edu, 260-481-6731.

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