Newswise — Nurses caring for underserved* critically ill cardiac patients at 10 hospitals across the country will participate in a cardiac-focused cohort of AACN Clinical Scene Investigator (CSI) Academy, a nurse leadership and innovation program from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).

AACN is providing the program free of charge to the hospitals, thanks to a $200,000 grant from Edwards Lifesciences Foundation and its philanthropic initiative Every Heartbeat Matters. The grant-funded program requires that the patient population of selected cardiac surgery critical care and/or progressive care units comprise a significant proportion of patients from underserved populations, with an emphasis on Black communities in the U.S.

During the 12-month all-virtual program, teams of nurses from selected units will identify high-priority patient-care challenges and then develop, implement and evaluate solutions that result in quantifiable improvements. The program includes monthly education sessions and ongoing consultation and mentoring by AACN CSI Academy faculty, culminating in an online Innovation Conference where participants present their results to hospital leaders.

The hospitals selected to participate in the program are:

  • Carolinas Medical Center, part of Atrium Health, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta
  • Harbor-University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center, part of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services
  • Lenox Hill Hospital, part of Northwell Health, New York City
  • North Shore University Hospital, part of Northwell Health, Manhasset, New York
  • Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital
  • The George Washington University Hospital, Washington, D.C.
  • Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, part of UAB Medicine

“AACN is grateful for the opportunity to partner with Edwards Lifesciences Foundation, these hospitals and their nurses to uncover solutions that specifically target healthcare disparity gaps,” said Dana Woods, AACN CEO. “CSI Academy continues to demonstrate that direct care nurses are critical drivers in creating lasting change and, ultimately, transforming healthcare. This cohort’s focus on underserved cardiac surgery patients will empower an even broader community of nurses to make their optimal contribution.”

Nancy Blake, PhD, RN, CCRN-K, NEA-BC, NHDP-BC, FAAN, is chief nursing officer at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, one of four public hospitals in Los Angeles County that provide care to underserved communities. Many of its patients come from South Central Los Angeles, which is home to the largest Black community in the county.

“We are always striving to improve the quality of care for our patients and empower our staff to improve care by focusing on evidence-based practice,” Blake said. “In 2019, we implemented a shared governance structure at the hospital, encouraging clinical nurses to implement solutions to improve care. By participating in this special cohort of AACN CSI Academy, we want to improve recovery outcomes for our post-cardiac-surgery patients in the cardiothoracic ICU and help our staff continue to transform care for our vulnerable patients. Our patients will benefit from our participation, and the staff will get a professional opportunity that is like no other.”

AACN CSI Academy builds additional skills for direct care nurses and leverages their expertise, empowering them as clinician leaders who effect positive changes that improve patient, nurse and hospital outcomes. Nationwide, more than 469 nurses at 82 hospitals have directly participated in the program since its launch in 2012. In total, the program has touched over 1.1 million patients and 6,200 nurses, with an estimated total positive fiscal impact to hospitals of $84.2 million.

Outcomes from previous CSI Academy cohorts include improvements such as decreasing hospital-acquired pressure injuries, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, patient falls, delirium, sepsis and length of stay, as well as increasing communication-related patient satisfaction and nurse satisfaction, among other factors.

Launette Woolforde, EdD, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, NPD-BC, FAAN, vice president of nursing education and professional development for Northwell Health and chief nursing officer at Lenox Hill Hospital, knows firsthand how CSI Academy can impact patient and fiscal outcomes. In 2013-14, she served as the hospital-based coach for nurses at North Shore University Hospital while they participated in the program.

“The CSI Academy experience helped North Shore’s neurosurgical ICU nurses reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infections 26%, with a positive estimated fiscal impact of over $100,000 annually,” she said. “The team was able to sustain the gains, role-modeling how direct care nurses can drive change. The program was transformative for North Shore, and I sing its praises everywhere I go. We’re grateful for the opportunity to further develop our front-line nurses in caring for cardiac surgery patients.”

AACN offers online access to its collection of CSI Academy innovation projects ― including project plans, clinical interventions, data collection tools, outcomes and references ― as part of the program’s goal to inspire and empower as many progressive and critical care nurses as possible. With more than 104,000 unique downloads of project materials, the CSI innovation project library has become a resource for hospitals, healthcare administrators and clinical leaders seeking solutions that improve outcomes and reduce costs.

In addition to the grant-funded AACN CSI Academy cohort, a 12-month Academy program is available to all hospitals and health systems. Learn more on the CSI Academy FAQ page.

*Edwards Lifesciences Foundation identifies underserved people as “those who have a health disparity as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and lack awareness of, or access to, medically appropriate healthcare.” (Every Heartbeat Matters webpage, 2021)

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: For more than 50 years, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has been dedicated to acute and critical care nursing excellence. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families where acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. AACN is the world’s largest specialty nursing organization, with more than 130,000 members and over 200 chapters in the United States.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 27071 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656;