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Visiting Nurse Service Transforms Bellevue Space Into Hospice

Monday March 21, 2011
Patient rooms are painted in tranquil, pastel colors and feature modern amenities. All rooms have a view of the East River.
Patient rooms are painted in tranquil, pastel colors and feature modern amenities. All rooms have a view of the East River.
(Photos by Tracey Boyd)
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The Visiting Nurse Service of New York recently opened a 25-bed hospice unit at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan. The 12,420-square-foot unit offers one- and two-bed patient rooms with spectacular views that overlook the East River.

Patient intake is broken down into three categories. One third of patients are admitted through home care and hospice, a third are referred from major medical centers in New York City, and the remaining third come from referrals outside of the borough, said Diane Hughes, RN, daytime supervisor. “The length-of-stay average is between three and eight days,” Hughes said. “Discharge planning begins as soon as patients come in.”


Diane Hughes, RN, daytime supervisor, left, and Shirla Joseph, LPN.
According to Hughes, some beds will be allocated for respite and a few ventilator patients, but all patients will have a DNR signed upon admission.

Designed with comfort in mind, the unit has many amenities for patients and families. Patient rooms are painted in tranquil, calming pastel shades and designed in a modern style, with all equipment tucked neatly into the walls above the bed. The spa room features a large tub for patients to indulge in a relaxing bath, a rarity in New York City hospitals.


The unit has a spacious lounge for family members to eat, converse and relax, but still remain close to their loved one.
The unit also features a spacious and welcoming area for visiting families, complete with a comfortable sofa and chairs and dining area and a Nourishment Room where patients’ food is stored. “We have a contract with the hospital to supply the patients’ food,” Hughes said.

Nursing staff consists of two LPNs, two RNs, four nursing assistants and a nursing supervisor for each shift and a nurse practitioner. The staff also includes a spiritual counselor, social worker, patient volunteer coordinator, educator, medical director, quality improvement personnel and outside physicians who take calls nights and weekends.


The large tub in the Spa Room.
The unit is housed in what used to be a neurology unit at Bellevue. VNSNY leased the space from the hospital, so staff and patients are entirely independent of Bellevue. “Bellevue and VNSNY have a long history of partnering to serve the patients in New York City, and this was the right blend of opportunity,” said Eleanor Canning, RN, BSN, director of hospice access and program development for VNSNY Hospice and Palliative Care. “We had discussed it with a number of other places, but it just worked out.”

According to Canning, the hospice beds were acquired as part of a merger with Pax Christie Hospice. “We received 45 beds and put 25 in Bellevue,” she said. “We’re looking for a partner for the other 20 beds to expand by the end of 2011.”


Tracey Boyd is a regional reporter. Send letters to editorNY@nursingspectrum.com or comment below.