March 2018

NICHE Carts improve care for patients with cognitive impairment


Elderly patients with cognitive impairments, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or delirium, present unique challenges for hospital staff. Some patients may become resistant and attempt to remove IVs or other medical equipment. And, staff didn’t feel they had the proper tools to address this issue.

With funds from generous donors, a multidisciplinary team of staff created activity diversion carts for senior patients. Stocked with purposeful activities meant to stimulate the senses, these carts have greatly improved care for patients with cognitive impairments. The carts were introduced in 2015 and there are now seven carts throughout the hospital.

The carts are part of the NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) initiative at Swedish Covenant Hospital. The hospital was recently redesignated “Senior-Friendly” by NICHE, which indicates the hospital’s commitment to caring for the special needs of patients over 65. Swedish Covenant Hospital has been a NICHE hospital since 2004.

Linda Beagley, MS, RN, CPAN, who chairs the NICHE committee, shared one story of how the carts have made a difference. When the initiative was first launched, staff was having difficulties communicating with a patient who was hospitalized as a result of a stroke and had limited English proficiency. A caregiver offered her a doll from the cart, which helped soothe and provide purpose for the patient. The patient carried the doll with her throughout the unit and took care of the doll by tucking it into bed.

“It is gratifying that the cart was so purposeful for that one patient,” Linda said.

The activity carts expand the choice of activities for confused or bored patients. Nurses and CNAs determine which activity from the cart is most appropriate for each patient, and will offer an activity based on each patient’s needs. The NICHE committee is continuously testing new activities to add the cart. Some of the more popular items include playing cards, puzzles, and markers and colored pencils for coloring.

Since the implementation of the carts, staff has noticed an improvement for patients and staff.

“It has made caring for patients with cognitive impairments easier,” Maryanne Graf, nurse on 4N and NICHE committee member said. “It’s also nice to be able to offer patients and families something.”

To learn more about supporting initiatives like NICHE carts, contact the Foundation at or 773.293.5121.

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Healing Arts Program brightens Psychiatric Unit


Earlier this month, patients in the Galter Medical Pavilion patient testing area experienced the healing power of art through a live art demonstration. Artist-in-Residence Kari Lindholm-Johnson painted a 3½ x 6½ foot mural while patients had the opportunity to color a smaller version. The mural is one of three that will decorate the day room on the inpatient psychiatric unit.

The project was born from a need to create a more calming and welcoming space for patients on the psychiatric unit.

“Through researching art for psychiatric units, I found that art decreases anxiety levels, especially artwork that is based on savannas,” Kari said.

The murals are based on photographs of the Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve by Chris Johnson. Purchased by a restaurateur in 1969, the Texas ranch was restored to its natural habitat and has become one of the largest habitat restoration projects in the state.

“It’s a great theme for healing when contemplating restoration of land,” Kari said.

The art project has been a collaboration between staff, patients and students. Claire Waterman, Wheaton College Community Art Intern, painted the study for the murals for the psychiatric unit’s day room, and students from North Park University helped with the underpainting.

The murals will be installed on the unit this spring. Once installed, they will be actively used to prompt patient art making and reflection as well as enhance their experience in that area.

Art groups are held weekly in the psychiatry unit’s day room during quiet time. Patients are provided with paints and things to paint on and are encouraged to express themselves creatively through the process.

“Patients often say that it’s so nice to sit and relax and create,” Kari said. “They often make things for their kids or others through the program.”

In addition to the psychiatry unit, the Healing Arts program includes regular art groups on the extended care and rehabilitation units, in the cancer center, and through individual visits. In 2017, a Certified Music Practitioner, was added, bringing song to patients and families on three units weekly. The program reaches more than a thousand patients each year through art and music experiences.

To learn more about the Healing Arts Program, contact the Foundation at or 773.293.5121.

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SANE room provides safe space for survivors of sexual assault


As a trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), Resi Willis was well prepared to care for a survivor of sexual assault who came to Swedish Covenant Hospital’s Emergency Department in 2015. Through the experience, she found the greatest challenge to be the physical space. Because of the layout and location of the treatment room, she had difficulty controlling the flow of people into the safe space that she was trying to create.

In response, Resi proposed creating a designated SANE room that would allow survivors safety and dignity as they are treated following a traumatic event.

“The space is not only important for patients, it also is important for our doctors and nurses because caring for survivors of sexual assault is a very involved and stressful process,” said Kate Lawler director of the violence prevention program at Swedish Covenant Hospital. “Having all of the resources in one place is very beneficial to creating a seamless process.”

The Hospital’s recent Emergency Department renovation provided an opportunity for administration and staff to improve the treatment space for survivors of sexual assault. In winter 2017, a new SANE room opened with the completion of phase two of the Emergency Department renovation. The new room has a private bathroom and shower, and is designed to provide a calm and comfortable space for both patients and staff. The new space also includes ample storage for items including evidence collection kits and clothing, which is often provided to patients after their clothes are collected for evidence.

A generous donation by corporate partner, Rust-Oleum, is allowing Swedish Covenant Hospital to further furnish the SANE room. Funds will enable the hospital to equip the room with seating that will allow a nurse or an advocate to sit and talk with the patient in a more humanizing way.

In addition to the donation, 12 staff from Rust-Oleum visited Swedish Covenant Hospital in February for their “Day of Caring.” Through this event, volunteers learned more about the Violence Prevention Program at Swedish Covenant Hospital, created artwork for the SANE room, and sorted toiletry donations for care packages for survivors of sexual assault.

Rust-Oleum employees created artwork for the SANE room during their “Day of Caring.”

“Rust-Oleum’s contribution of time, creativity and funds have helped us to create the humanizing and comfortable space that we want for one of the most difficult situations that a patient and nurse can find themselves in in a hospital setting,” Kate said.

Swedish Covenant Hospital sees approximately 1-2 cases of sexual assault per week in the Emergency Department – or a total of 60-70 per year. There are 12 SANE-trained nurses in the Emergency Department. SANE nurses receive 40 hours of specialized training in the medical forensic care of the patient who has experienced sexual assault or abuse.

To learn more about the Violence Prevention Program at Swedish Covenant Hospital, visit the website or contact the Foundation at or 773.293.5121.

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Drs. Rubenstein and Rivera give back to Swedish


Dr. Emily Rubenstein and Dr. Angel Rivera are passionate about giving back to the community where they work and live. Their desire to see the hospital thrive and grow drives their commitment to supporting the hospital and its patients.

Dr. Rivera joined Swedish Covenant Hospital as an internal medicine resident in 2011. He then joined the Swedish Covenant Medical Group as a physician in 2016 and started the integrative and functional medicine program. During his residency, the hospital recruited Dr. Emily Rubenstein, his wife, who is a dermatologist. Dr. Rubenstein started the Swedish Skin Institute in 2014. Drs. Rubenstein and Rivera live in the community with their two children.

To them, Swedish Covenant Hospital stands out as an innovative, community hospital that is truly offering unique and responsive programming with the needs of the community in mind. But, on top of that, there is a sense of family.

“There is a warmth to the hospital,” Dr. Rubenstein said. “There is a sense of community among the administration, physicians, staff and patients.”

They feel a sense of passion among the physicians, as a group, and that physicians truly care about the wellbeing of the hospital and its patients. They share in this passion, which is why they chose to become more involved with Swedish Covenant Hospital through philanthropic support, and by volunteering their time on the gala committee.

“We feel we give back professionally every day and want to do more to support the hospital,” Dr. Rivera said.

Drs. Rubenstein and Rivera have been members of the gala committee for three years, and are serving as the chairs of the 2018 gala. They view the gala as a way to introduce their friends and family to Swedish Covenant Hospital.

“We are passionate about fundraising and see the gala as a fun way to support important causes at Swedish Covenant Hospital,” Dr. Rubenstein said.

The 2018 Annual Benefit Gala will be held on Saturday, October 27 in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier.

“We are excited to host a fun and energetic gala this year, that will have lots of surprises,” Dr. Rubenstein said.

To learn more about the 2018 Annual Benefit Gala, click here or contact the Foundation at or 773.293.5121.

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