Ensuring Good Care

At Work

Mary Franco, Clinical Care Coordinator, Northwest Hospital Center

August 16, 2009|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to The Sun

AGE: 48

SALARY: $91,000

TIME ON THE JOB: 8 months

How she got started: : Mary Franco began at Northwest Hospital Center in 1979 as a nursing assistant. In 1985, she graduated with an associate's degree in nursing from what is now the Catonsville location of the Community College of Baltimore County. She began working as a nurse in acute care and later moved to the heart care unit.

In January, the position of clinical care coordinator was created, and Franco jumped at the opportunity. She recently began taking classes at Stevenson University to complete her bachelor's degree.

Typical day: : Franco used to work 12-hour shifts but with the new job now begins about 6:30 a.m. and leaves at 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. She serves as point person in the heart care unit, acting as a liaison between patients and health care providers, keeping in constant contact with doctors, nurses, physical therapists, social workers and others to coordinate care.

She ensures that there is little lag time in getting tests and procedures ordered and minimizes the time it takes to get test results back to doctors and patients. Since January, the average length of a patient's stay in the unit has dropped from just over three days to 2.5 days.

"I'm there to help stop delays in treatment. I get things moving," Franco said.

She makes rounds, trying to check in on patients at least twice during their stay. She also helps with traditional nursing tasks when needed.

"I can keep a lot of balls in the air at one time," she said.

Franco serves as educator, often sitting in with patients and their families to explain procedures, outcomes or medications.

She is in constant contact with physicians, serving as go-between for the unit's nurses.

"I'm there for the patients first and foremost, but I'm also there for the [doctors] so they can do their job," Franco said.

Her 30 years of experience as a health care provider has served her well in this position. As the unit's coordinator for patient care, she has an opportunity to mentor and help new nurses.

The good: : "We're accomplishing a lot. Patients are happy they're getting what they need."

The bad: : The initial transition into the new role as clinical care coordinator was rough because roles had to be established.

Philosophy on the job: : "I try to focus on one thing and move on from there. At the end of the day, I want to feel like I've accomplished something everyone is happy with and the patient care is delivered the way it should be."

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