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Doctors offers Niche nursing for seniors
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Doctors Hospital of Manteca Niche nursing navigators Kellie Malogan and Syvel Gunzon both advanced credentialed nurses in senior care take time for a friendly chat with patient Barbara Denny and take her blood pressure in her second floor hospital room. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Senior citizen patients at Doctors Hospital of Manteca are being given advanced care since the launching of the new Niche program.

Two nurse navigators daily give seniors over 65 special attentions in their additional scheduled rounds.

Doctors is the first hospital to initiate such a program in the Central Valley, according to the team of registered nurses Kellie Malogan and Syvel Gunson who are handling the new fulltime assignments. They noted that 75 percent of their hospital population is over 65 years old.

The Niche program is a special project of the new (CNO) Chief Nursing Officer Kathy Daley who was recently elevated to that position. It was introduced into medical facilities in 1988 in New York.

Both women possess (BSN) bachelors in science and CMSRN degrees and are certified to work in the Medical-Surgical Department in any hospital. To also be certified in the geriatric field, they took 20 hours of leadership training through Niche and 30 hours of generic care training all at San Francisco General Hospital.

Gunson has been at DHM for the last five years and a nurse for 22 years, working in Medical-Surgical and Multi-Specialty assignments. Before coming to Doctors, she worked at a hospital in Corpus Christy, Texas. 

She recalled her dad Silvino Fernandez advised her to become a nurse – the best way to get into America from the Philippines. Now at 32 years, she said she has become an orphan with both of her parents having passed away. She said she regrets never having the opportunity to have taken care of her grandfather in his last years.

Gunson said she was recently thanked by the family of a dying patient for introducing them to the Hospice care in the community. The dad was resistant to the idea but a daughter recently told a positive story of his last days – referring to the two nurses as being the “Angels Without Wings.”

Malogan has been at Doctors as a nurse for 15 years after working in a skilled nursing facility in San Jose. She has been a registered nurse for the last 19 years.

Her reason for going into nursing came from an aunt who was a nurse. And, in her younger years she watched her grandfather go through the trauma of Alzheimer’s Disease. 

“I saw him in a care facility in San Jose just sitting in his chair in the hallway holding a banana with no one paying any attention to him,” she recalled. “When I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. He passed away when I was 12. He was always my babysitter, him and my grandma.”

She remembers as a nurse they had one little man with a history of developing delirium in the hospital which they control today by taking time with their patients and dispensing the proper medication to keep it from developing after surgery.

“That’s now one of our goals at the hospital – preventing delirium,” she said.

The two Niche nurses often spend up to two hours just sitting on the edge of a patient’s bed and chatting with them and sometimes even listening to their life’s stories. 

Some of those seniors even want the nurses to hold their hand – giving them added comfort, they noted. Many just want to have somebody who cares and want someone to listen to them, they added. Routinely student volunteers on the floor are encouraged to converse with the seniors like they would their grandparents.

Malogan and her husband have three boys from age 5 to 14. The oldest already has a passion to become a physician. Gunson’s children range from 14 to 23. Daughter Szarisse is currently in UOP’s Pharmacy School in Stockton.