You and Medical Technology: The Donna Johnston Story

We at Baptist Health are proud to have innovative technology to help our amazing patients every single day. But what exactly are those resources? And—more importantly—who are the people who utilize them?  In our Transitional Care department, that person is Donna Johnston. Since moving to Arkansas in 2002, she continued her illustrious career as a nurse by joining our Home Health division, which she greatly enjoyed. “I was a Home Health Field Nurse for 15 years,” Donna shares. I then transitioned into the office and became a Telehealth Nurse. I helped develop a potential telehealth program for Home Health, and just recently came here to Transitional Care, where we have patients who have just come out of the acute setting and need a place to rest for 30 days before going home. We help them learn to self-manage their chronic disease, stay out of the hospital, and gain strength.  For those who are not aware, the telehealth program Donna helped create was a major asset for the communication between patients and physicians.  We’d give patients blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximeters to use while they had a Home Health service, such as nursing or physical therapy, come out to check on them. We taught them to check their vital signs every day, which would then transmit into a website that we could log in to and monitor. We could see their vital signs come up on the screen and we could counsel patients about their weight or blood pressure trends. It let them see the cause and effect of things on their bodies, like salt intake and blood pressure level.  Having such a visual link between their actions and their wellbeing would greatly affect patient care. “It helped people learn self-care management, own their own disease process, and stay out of the hospital on their terms,” Donna says confidently.  While that exact iteration of Donna’s plan is not currently in place, Donna and her team are working on a similar technical plan to use in the future. They’re embracing the core values of Baptist Health, which are to break new ground with our expertise and provide the very best care possible.  For Donna, the passion to do the best for her patients is even more close to home since she gets to know them on a very personal level. “I work with the same chronically ill patients on a day-to-day basis,” Donna says.  My specialty is still heart failure, and I enjoy working with that because I have a lot of knowledge about it. I counsel patients about what heart failure means to them and how they can still lead a full and productive life even with their diagnosis of heart failure. I work with their questions and what their limitations are, and make sure they go to their doctor’s appointments and successfully manage a low-sodium diet.  The headquarters of Donna’s office is located “off campus”—that is, not in the main hospital. The smaller office has a calmer atmosphere than the hustle and bustle of a major facility, and the team has been working together for many years. Together, the members of the Transitional Care department use their collective experience with diseases such as COPD, heart failure, and pneumonia to watch for warning signs and give each patient a more educated treatment plan.  “Having everyone so close helps tremendously, because no one patient is isolated to one disease office and everyone can use their expertise to help,” Donna adds. That isn’t limited to just Transitional Care. Donna’s department works with the main hospital to monitor patients as soon as they’ve shown signs of chronic diseases, even while they’re still “on campus.” The hospital identifies patients as soon as they come into the Emergency Room. They know that coming out of the hospital with a chronic disease can require a big transition, so we monitor them while they’re in the hospital and see what may develop while they’re there. The main hospital also helps us with resources the patient can use once the transition out of the hospital has occurred.   Suffice to say, Donna and her team are there for you every step of the way. With our stunning technology, nurses and physicians are able to minimize communication errors and send patient information in a moment’s notice.  We may be lightning-quick, but it’s our mission at Baptist Health to make sure patients don’t feel like they’re lost in the shuffle. Thanks to Donna and the Transitional Care office, we can ensure each patient’s comfort for years to come.

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