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Despite recent improvements in the treatment of pressure ulcers, this preventable complication continues to dramatically extend hospital stays, impede recovery and rehabilitation, and increase the risk of infection. The success of 1 clinical nurse specialist serves as an inspiration for nurses and other providers concerned with preventing pressure ulcers.

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Margaret Talley, a clinical nurse specialist for Palomar Pomerado Health, took an existing wound care program to the next level, dramatically reducing the percentage of patients with hospital-acquired pressure ulcers. For her efforts, Talley has received the prestigious Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award. She is 1 of 10 honorees nationwide in 2007.


"Margaret Talley uncovered a major problem, developed a comprehensive plan to combat it, and mentored nurses in the process," said Wendell Mobley, who directs the company's charitable and scholarship programs, noting that Talley's actions directly and profoundly impacted the quality of healthcare within the hospital system. In addition, by disseminating the results of the program nationally, she continues to touch many patients in countless ways.


In 2003, Talley discovered that 2 acute care hospitals within Palomar Pomerado Health had a higher rate of pressure ulcer prevalence than the national benchmark. Talley began a one-on-one mentoring, the RN Skin Team. Within about a year, each member of the team was able to perform pressure ulcer prevalence assessments and data collection independently. In addition, they serve as consultants to their peer nursing colleagues regarding skin care.


With Talley at the helm, the team's outreach activities included conducting a large-scale education program, working to accurately identify and document community-acquired pressure ulcers, modifying the computerized charting system to fully capture pressure ulcers during admissions assessments, and training bedside staff to be able to accurately assess skin and stage lesions. They also codeveloped standardized order sets for pressure ulcer care and system standardization of the wound care product formulary with the organization's Wound Care Center. In 2006, the percentage of medical patients with hospital-acquired pressure ulcers dropped from 10% to 3%, with a net effect of fewer complications for patients and shorter hospital stays.


Today, skin care has become a major strategic initiative for Palomar Pomerado Health's nursing division. The skin team has representation for each nursing unit across the district. Talley continues to guide new staff, mentor nursing students on-site, present in classroom settings, and serve as a preceptor for graduate nursing clinical nurse specialist students. She works closely with geriatric and palliative care clinical nurse specialists for an integrative, comprehensive approach for this patient population. In addition, she has worked closely with the district clinical nurse specialist team to increase their knowledge regarding skin care practices and innovations.


Talley has shared the program innovations regionally, statewide, and on a national level. Most recently, her skin team program was published in the American Nurses Association publication Transforming Nursing Data Into Quality Care. She has also presented at the national conference of the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society.


"No matter how much I learn about the practice of nursing and my specialty, I realize there are always more practice questions that need to be answered," says Talley. "I have been a student of nursing since 1975, continually returning to school to indulge my passion for learning and now I am embarking on earning my PhD."


As a grand prize winner in the award's Advanced Practice Nursing category, Talley receives an all-expense-paid cruise for two to the Caribbean, a crystal award, and a wardrobe of Cherokee healthcare apparel. She also will appear in the nationally distributed Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award 2008 calendar.


The award is granted annually by Cherokee Uniforms to recognize nurses and other nonphysician healthcare professionals who demonstrate exceptional service, sacrifice, and innovation and have a positive impact on others' lives. This is the fifth year that the leading designer and manufacturer of healthcare apparel has honored inspirational caregivers.


Since the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award was established in 2003, more than 5,300 healthcare professionals have been nominated in the Registered Nurse, Advanced Practice Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse, Student Nurse, and Nonphysician Healthcare Professional categories. A panel of nursing professionals and Cherokee representatives evaluates nominations and grants the awards.


For every nomination received in 2007, Cherokee Uniforms donated $1 to national health-centered charities. The total amount was divided equally among the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the Alzheimer's Association. Since 2005, Cherokee has donated more than $3,300. Proceeds from Cherokee Uniforms products support healthcare professionals through initiatives such as the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award, an annual calendar, and the A Nurse I Am Film and Scholarship Program. Cherokee Uniforms will be accepting nominations for the 2008 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award beginning March 1, 2008, through May 31, 2008. For further information on the award, please visit