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Riggall pushes for cutting-edge training and patient care

Virginia Riggall R.N. brings compassion to bedside care and advances the field of nursing in Rochester.

  Riggall is a clinical resource nurse at Rochester General Hospital’s cardiothoracic intensive care unit.

  The story of her parents-once strong and healthy people who became weak and vulnerable from the illnesses that took their lives-motivates her as a nurse and educator. When she encounters patients in critical condition, she knows they have their own important histories and wants to ensure they get the best possible care.

  Riggall has been instrumental in bringing simulation to RGH. She collaborated with a college engineering department to plan a simulation lab layout, and she has written grants to secure funding for the project and helped provide education to those using the equipment.

  Through her work, RGH has been able to secure simulation equipment from vendors temporarily, while she writes grants for permanent funding. The mock codes used with the simulation equipment have boosted teamwork. The result: Actual patient codes are handled more efficiently and effectively, co-workers say.

  Riggall was integral to an RGH sepsis screening initiative, launched last year. It involved the development of a sepsis screening tool and intensive education to providers and nurses regarding the pathophysiology, screening and treatment of patients with the potentially deadly condition.

  RGH credits the initiative with saving 120 lives in 2010. These patients had not been expected to live through their hospitalization due to their illnesses but did survive to be discharged.

  Riggall, who also works as an adjunct faculty member at St. John Fisher College, is committed to continuing education. She was the lead coordinator for the 2010 RGH Cardiovascular Teaching Day, which highlighted topics including cardiac procedures, anticoagulation, atrial fibrillation, patient education and the patient’s perspective. Nearly 120 participants gave the event excellent reviews.

  Riggall is working on a project to expedite the discharge process in the cardiothoracic intensive-care unit and the cardiac surgical unit. Part of this includes collaborating with home-care service agencies to strengthen the transition process from hospital to home.

  Riggall volunteers in the community and advocates for others to do so. She is president of the Greater Rochester Finger Lakes Chapter of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. The organization recently held its first best-practices session for nurses from area hospitals.

  "This has been a great experience to break down the barriers between hospitals and to build learning environments that benefit our patients across the community," Riggall says. 

  She also has driven a chapter effort to contribute to community causes, such as food and school supply drives. And she encouraged RGH clinical nurse specialists to volunteer to answer questions about cardiac care at a health fair last fall.

  Carrying on the legacy of William Libertson M.D., with whom she worked many years ago, is one of Riggall’s greatest passions and proudest accomplishments, she says. The doctor thought new mothers of all incomes should have something attractive to dress their babies in. The pair co-founded We Love Babies, a charity that delivers baby outfits to new mothers.

  Riggall cannot talk about We Love Babies without getting tears in her eyes. Since Libertson passed away more than a decade ago, she has become the charity’s administrator. She manages the fund, purchases baby clothes and now, with her daughter Hannah, assembles the baby gift baskets.

  Riggall says the support of her husband, Lee, has been key in all of her work. And her daughter is following in her mother’s footsteps by becoming a nurse herself.     

Lynette Haaland is a freelance writer and a former Rochester Business Journal reporter.

3/18/11 (c) 2011 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail [email protected].

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