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Making a daily difference in the lives of elder patients

Mary Beth Hossenlopp N.P.’s goal for her elderly patients is to keep them out of the hospital and as comfortable as possible.

“I go to each elder’s bedside so they don’t have to go out of the cottage for medical care,” Hossenlopp said. “In case of a new medical problem, I’m right here able to evaluate them and get treatment started very quickly and just try to affect their day-to-day quality of life here.”

Hossenlopp is a nurse practitioner for Park Ridge Living Center of Rochester Regional Health System. In her role at the Wegman Family Cottages, Hossenlopp is responsible for the care of the elderly patients, making rounds daily to each one.

Hossenlopp chose her career because she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. When she returned to school she discovered she enjoyed working with the elderly.

“I thought there was a great need there for additional support for them and additional medical care,” she said.

Hossenlopp’s colleagues call her compassionate and say she has embraced new learning and the Eden Alternative, which is a way of caregiving that is rooted in the belief that loneliness, helplessness and boredom account for the bulk of suffering among elders.

“For medical people sometimes the culture change journey can be tough,” said Patricia Nash Rubien, Park Ridge’s vice president of administration. “She embraced the culture change. She’s embraced resident-directed care.”

Rubien said the care that is now being provided has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades.

“One of the projects that we have embraced the last couple of years is the need to design care pathways,” Rubien said. “That’s a proactive approach to identifying health care needs. She was very much there at the table with us giving her very valuable feedback.”

One of the challenges Hossenlopp has faced in her work is the sheer number of elderly individuals and the rapid changes in health care delivery.

“When you’re dealing with an aging population—and we’re seeing more and more people living into their 90s and 100s—the challenge of trying to stay current with all the new technology and the medical advances that are made, you have to have a true commitment to further your education to stay current,” Hossenlopp said.

Hossenlopp has impeccable ethical standards, her colleagues say, and has been called an “indispensable wealth of information.” She is known for her approachability and respect for patients and staff. She includes elders and their families in medical care options and decisions.

Last year Hossenlopp received LeadingAge New York’s Professional of the Year Award. The award honors a long-term care housing and services professional’s contributions to the well-being of the elderly or chronically ill in his or her community. The award is given to an employee who demonstrates civic involvement as well as professional dedication, accomplishment and field expertise.

But Rubien said Hossenlopp’s greatest accomplishment is who she is.

“She has a baseline personality of being very caring and compassionate. She brings her dog into work with her every day because that’s delightful for the folks here,” Rubien said. “She’s an ultimate team player. She’s so supportive, so respectful to everybody.”

One of the difficulties in her kind of work, Hossenlopp said, is losing patients, but she deals with that loss by gleaning something from each relationship she fosters at the facility.

“With each person I come away feeling like I’ve learned something from them and enjoy the time I have with them,” she said. “It’s difficult to lose each person, but I always feel that I’ve gained something from them as well and try to take that approach.”

3/20/15 (c) 2015 RBJ Health Care Achievement Awards. Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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