Nurses make a difference and change lives in their varying roles serving Veterans at the bedside, in surgical suites, outpatient clinics and through innovative research. In the latter role, North Texas VA Clinical Nurse Leader Maria Cielo Borrinaga led a study and created a portable ventilator and an oral care process that helped prevent non-ventilator associated pneumonia cases.
In September 2019, just before the Covid-19 pandemic, Borrinaga and team engaged nurses providing oral care twice daily in the prevention of non-ventilator associated pneumonia in two medical surgical units at Dallas VA. These efforts proved that good oral hygiene helped in preventing the onset of non-ventilator associated pneumonia.
The results were almost immediate and, in early 2020, the project was adopted hospital wide.
“The project prevented pneumonia in patients, saved two inpatient units $160,000, and decreased hospital stays by 24 days,” said Borrinaga.
Finding solutions to pandemic problems
In 2020, Borrinaga joined Challenge America’s COVID-19 Make Challenge sponsored by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) to help others find solutions to the pressing problems brought on by the pandemic.
She proved she could think outside the box by creating a portable ventilator which has all the features of a full-scale ventilator at a fraction of the cost. Borrinaga’s team won two events – the Circle of Excellence National 1EX Award for Innovation and the overall grand prize.
Borrinaga joined North Texas VA to serve Veterans in 2015 after working as a registered nurse for 28 years.
Dynamic group of respected professionals
“Maria has shown us what it means to take to heart the North Texas VA vision, ‘To provide our Veterans the world-class benefits and services they have earned,’” said Maria Thomas, chief nurse researcher. “North Texas VA nurses are a dynamic, diverse group of respected, compassionate professionals. Maria Borrinaga is a prime example of the best of our best.”
Borrinaga is looking forward to leading these projects and being among others in the upcoming Veterans Affairs Shark Tank competition. If selected, these successful projects could become patented and mass produced to help solve ventilator shortages around the globe.