MU research program aims to improve Missouri's nursing homes

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COLUMBIA - A group of researchers in the Sinclair School of Nursing on MU's campus is conducting a study on how to reduce the number of hospitalizations in Missouri's nursing homes.

The group's solution? Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

APRNs are nurses, with master's or doctorate of nursing degrees,  trained to recognize illness early on so that it is treatable sooner. Often times this means one less trip to a hospital for nursing facility residents. 

Marilyn Rantz, one of the lead researchers, said being hospitalized can stress elderly residents.

"When people go to the hospital and they're nursing home residents, it's often a real problem for them because they undergo a lot more stress, in addition to not feeling well or being quite sick at the time. They undergo more stress and that makes it even harder for them to recover," Rantz said.

The team's research also shows that Medicare could be saving quite a bit.

"I did some calculations and if we had nurses, advanced practice registered nurses, working in all of the nursing homes in the state of Missouri, it would save Medicare over $50 million a year," Rantz said.

The team of researchers believes numbers will improve if there are APRNs in all 500 of Missouri's nursing homes.

Judith Fitzgerald Miller, dean of the Sinclair School of Nursing, said the school is proud of the research being conducted.

"To be a leader in achieving results in this project demonstrates commitment to improving nursing homes and care of older adults not only in Missouri," Miller said, "but across the nation."

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