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Barbara P. Riley, senior vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer at Rhode Island Hospital, was among five University of Connecticut School of Nursing alumni who recently received an award as part of the school’s annual “Reflections of Excellence” ceremony.
During the ceremony, Riley was presented with the Carolyn Ladd Widmer Outstanding Alumni for Leadership in Nursing Award, named after the founding dean of the school of nursing. In her role at Rhode Island Hospital, Riley oversees the department of nursing, which spans the emergency department, peri-operative services and adult-patient services in the state’s largest acute care hospital and only level-one trauma center, along with its pediatric division, Hasbro Children’s Hospital. She is also responsible for strategic planning, nursing standards of practice and quality outcomes throughout the organization.
Riley holds a B.S. in nursing from Ohio State University and an M.A. in nursing administration from the University of Connecticut.
PBN: What are some of the biggest issues you face in your role at Rhode Island Hospital?
RILEY: Our work is all about quality of care and continuously improving [which is] easy to say, not so easy to do. As the world of health care changes, patient stays are becoming shorter. This means that we as nurses have a shorter time to make sure that the patient and his or her family are prepared for discharge.
PBN: How did your time at Hartford Hospital (an urban teaching hospital) shape you as a nursing professional?
RILEY: I spent my formative years as a nurse there and came to appreciate the value of diverse backgrounds – in co-workers and in patients. No one person or group has all of the answers but together we can come closer to finding the best solutions for our problems, whether they are clinical problems or system problems. Large, urban teaching hospitals are immensely complex – and they need to be because they take care of the sickest of the sick.
PBN: How are nurses prepared to deal with health promotion and prevention vs. after-illness care (due to the Affordable Care Act)?
RILEY: We receive a lot of education and training in health promotion in nursing school. We are taught how to engage patients and their families in choosing healthy lifestyles, and as a profession, we are the ones who make house calls (as visiting nurses/home care nurses) to help keep patients at home. •