"Right Side up in Otter Tail County" received the 2011Minnesota Rural Health Team Award June 28 in Duluth. The award was presented during the 2011Minnesota Rural Health Conference, an annual event hosted by the Minnesota Rural Health Association and the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care at the Minnesota Department of Health.
"Right Side up in Otter Tail County" is an interprofessional practice and education program designed to reduce fall risk among senior citizens and improve their quality
of life. This program is a collaborative effort of Lake Region Healthcare, Otter Tail County Public Health and Central MN AHEC.
"Right Side Up" grew out of a nursing student's project that looked at the number of falls occurring in Otter Tail County. With financial support from the MN AHEC Network and a USDA Rural Health and Safety grant, It has continued with medical, pharmacy, physical therapy students on clinical rotations at Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls.
In addition to well over 30 students, Right Side Up includes nurse practitioner Marie Braaten, pharmacists Eric Christianson, Mark Dewey and Todd Johnson, physical therapist Eric Leopold, and nurses Lynn Lundquist and Diane Thorson, and Laurissa Stigen, executive director of the Central MN AHEC. The entire Right Side Up team works together to assess the risk of elderly community members falling and makes recommendations to decrease fall risk.
When a family member or health care provider refers an individual with a history of falls or the potential to fall, Right Side Up arranges a home visit. The home visit includes an environmental assessment, an inventory of all prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, a medical history and a balance test. With assistance from a public health or home health nurse, the students conduct the assessments and then present recommendations to reduce the risk of falls to the entire team. Final recommendations are sent to the individuals and their primary care providers for action.
A key component to reducing falls is coordinating care using a team approach. Not only do students gain confidence in their abilities, but through this early experience with an interprofessional approach to patient care, students are better prepared to continue improving quality of life for seniors well into the future.