MU Sinclair School of Nursing gets $14.8 million grant

Monday, November 5, 2012 | 8:47 p.m. CST
Judith Fitzgerald Miller, dean of the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, speaks at a research grant announcement at the Reynolds Alumni Center on Monday morning. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave a grant of $14.8 million to the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. This is the largest research grant that MU has ever received.

COLUMBIA — MU's Sinclair School of Nursing announced Monday that it has won a $14.8 million research grant — the largest research grant in university history.

The money will fund a project aimed at reducing avoidable rehospitalizations among nursing home residents. The 100 or so people gathered at the Reynolds Alumni Center erupted with applause when Judith Fitzgerald Miller, dean of the Nursing School, and Marilyn Rantz, principal investigator of the project, revealed the grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services.

St. Louis nursing homes involved in project

  • Alexian Brothers Lansdowne Village, St. Louis
  • Alexian Brothers Sherbrooke Village, St. Louis
  • Cedarcrest Manor, Washington
  • Delmar Gardens, North Florissant
  • Delmar Gardens of Chesterfield, Chesterfield
  • Delmar Gardens of Creve Coeur, Creve Coeur
  • Delmar Gardens of Meramec Valley, Fenton
  • Delmar Gardens of O’Fallon, O’Fallon
  • Delmar Gardens on The Green, Chesterfield
  • Delmar Gardens South, St. Louis
  • Delmar Gardens West, Town and Country
  • Festus Manor Nursing Center, Festus
  • Grand Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, St. Louis
  • NHC Healthcare, Desloge
  • NHC Healthcare, Town and Country
  • Scenic Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Herculaneum

Source: Marcia Flesner

"I can't tell you how long I prayed" that the grant application would be successful, Rantz said after the announcement.

The project will send advanced practice registered nurses — those with graduate training as well as a nursing degree — to 16 nursing homes in St. Louis. The nurses will implement the use of health information technology and methods advocated by INTERACT — Interventions to Reduce Acute Care Transfers. It is a program that focuses on implementing tools and strategies in long-term care facilities, Rantz said.

The nurses will provide these services to nursing home residents while educating staff about early symptom recognition.

Rantz, recently admitted into the Institute of Medicine, has more than 20 years of experience researching aging and the elderly. She and her eight-person team represent different schools at MU including the College of Human Environmental Sciences and School of Social Work. Rantz said the interdisciplinary team is an asset to the research. 

"That's such a strength at MU, and it's something that I think is sometimes a very well-kept secret," she said. "What we do so well is we work with complex problems and develop good solutions to those complex problems because we put a lot of minds together." 

MU Chancellor Brady Deaton praised the School of Nursing for its research on aging and elderly care. He said the concept of aging in place has enabled older adults to stay in residential living as they age.

"The concept, in fact, of aging in place was developed in the Sinclair School of Nursing and is now a national model of care coordination," Deaton said. 

Marcia Flesner, a clinical instructor and part of the team, said the grant was a wonderful reward for all of the work they have done since receiving notice of the grant opportunity.

"The extra hours spent on the effort paid off and showed the commitment of the team," she said.

Of 3oo organizations that applied only seven grants were awarded throughout the U.S., Flesner said. She said they now have a four-year opportunity to make a difference in the rest of the country.

"At the end, hopefully we can have the results to have this model really make a difference," she said.

Flesner said the goal of the project is to save Medicare and Medicaid money, to improve quality of life and to demonstrate the value of having advanced practice registered nurses in nursing homes.

Rantz's previous research has shown that advanced practice registered nurses in nursing homes improve quality of care for residents and reduce costs and hospitalizations,but she says the backing of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will make a difference.  

"If there was ever a time that we could really advance the care for older people in America, it's now," Rantz said. "Now, we have the opportunity, and we are going to take this grant and run with it."

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