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Nurse wins award for helping pulmonary patients
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 7 juin 2012

Esther Dajczman has just been awarded the Quebec Order of Nurses’ highest distinction, the Prix Florence, for her work with patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

As a clinical nurse specialist in pulmonary disease, Dajczman shuttles between the Jewish General and Mount Sinai hospitals to educate COPD patients on how to live better with their disease.

She’s what’s called a nurse navigator, a nurse who partners with physicians to offer patients continuity of care and accessibility when they have problems. The day she was to receive her award, Dajczman got a phone call from one of her patients who wasn’t doing well. “So I told her to come in and see me, the doctor saw her with me, ran tests and we developed a plan of action. That to me exemplified why I was receiving the prize,” Dajczman says. “Someone who could have ended up in the emergency room got access to the care and treatment she needed.”

Dajczman has also developed a therapeutic exercise regime at a local gym where COPD patients can increase their endurance and fitness. “The more active and the more physically fit they are, the better they do. We’re trying to reduce the chance of people needing urgent care and lengthy hospital stays,” she explains.

There’s no cure for COPD, but people living with the disease can learn to maximize their lung capacity through breathing techniques, to conserve their energy and get more out life. Lawrence Rudner, aged 65, received training from Dajczman and her team. “It was a phenomenal program in every respect, not only the breathing but also the psychological and dietary counselling. She’s very, very accessible, which makes you feel very comfortable,” Rudner says.

The support of a nurse navigator has been shown to have health as well as economic benefits. Dajczman recently presented a report to a meeting of the American Thoracic Society relating nurse navigator assistance to a significant decrease in emergency room visits and hospital admissions, and shorter hospital stays.

Esther Dajczman’s next innovation involves researching the use of the Nintendo Wii interactive game system in pulmonary rehabilitation to find out if it’s safe for COPD patients and whether they’ll enjoy it and use it to improve their physical fitness.

[ Gerri Barrer ]

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