Call it a case of excellent timing.
When executive health services administration student Jennifer Hamilton, ’14, was provided with the final assignment for her capstone course, she knew exactly what she was going to do.
The assignment was to create a research project that would build upon all of the prior concepts and coursework covered in the executive HSA program. As luck would have it, Hamilton, who is the director of clinical support for Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, had just been asked to evaluate the cost of a new epilepsy unit for the hospital.
“I said to my teammates, ‘Hey, I was just assigned this [evaluation],” she explains. “I have the info at my fingertips. And that was how we decided.”
What started off as a task for work ended up as the final capstone project for Hamilton and her classmates, Chau Duong and Lori Galanida. That capstone project, in turn, became the business proposal for Nemours’ newest unit — the Sleep/EEG Center — which officially opened on July 17.
“It was pride and joy — so exciting,” Hamilton says. “I’m not a clinician, so everyone was saying, ‘Why is she so interested?’ But, it was a really big deal.”
The Sleep/EEG Center is not only a big deal for Hamilton and her teammates, but it’s a big deal for Nemours as well as its patients. The initial scope of the project was to determine the strategy for building an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. As the trio delved deeper into their research, they discovered that the hospital didn’t just need an epilepsy unit. Physicians were also conducting electroencephalogram tests as well as sleep studies, and they were doing their work in a small, tucked-away area within the hospital with limited growth potential. What they needed was a new unit, within the ambulatory side of the facility that would be more accessible to patients and provide increased capability to service patients with neurological and/or sleep disorders.
“It wasn’t just ease of access,” Hamilton explains. “Some of these kids — sometimes just by the nature of their medical condition — were at risk of coding, and, in a few situations, did code. Prior to the Sleep Lab moving to the downtown facility, you would have to call 911, stabilize them, then take them to the emergency room. This served as the impetus for moving that service to the hospital, but we encountered other ramifications resulting from this location change.”
They also found that the hospital was not being reimbursed as much because the procedures are typically intended to be performed in an outpatient setting, as opposed to what was now considered an inpatient setting.
The project team, having researched cost benefit, proposed that the hospital combine EEG and sleep services in a shared setting. With that idea in mind, the executive HSA students decided to pitch their idea to executives at Nemours.
Hamilton says it’s been rewarding to see their work turn into a world-class center that will serve the thousands of children in Central Florida who are in need of the services this unit can provide. She credits her teammates, as well as the executive HSA program, for helping her turn her class project into a reality.
“It was worth taking those courses and being a part of the program.”
This story was posted Aug. 4, 2015, on the UCF College of Health and Public Affairs website. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article.