Back to articles

Ukiah Valley Medical Center Receives NICHE Designation

Awards & Recognition

Ukiah Valley Medical Center is proud to announce that it has received the Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) designation. This designation signifies UVMCs dedication and commitment to excellence in providing care for the elderly in Mendocino county.

According to the Vice President for Patient Care, Heather Van Housen, “The NICHE designation demonstrates our leadership and commitment to meeting and exceeding the special care needs of older adults in the communities we serve.” Van Housen also shared that to achieve the NICHE designation the nursing leadership team, herself included, completed a six week course on how to build the infrastructure needed to support our aging population. “Our next step in the process,” said Van Housen, “is to evaluate how we currently care for elders and make quality improvements where needed.”

Once the evaluation has taken place the nursing staff is then educated on best practices for caring for elders in varying situations. “Our goal is to educate our nursing team and care providers on the age-related changes of the older adult,” shared Kristen Marin, director of education. “Being compassionate and empathetic towards elders is part of the training to enhance our team’s communication skills with our elderly patients, including their support persons and family members. This is just as important as their clinical skills and will help us provide excellent care for our older patients,” concluded Marin.

Eugene Lewis of Ft. Bragg, a recent patient at UVMC, felt that the nursing team was great. “They anticipated all of my needs – the team knew what they were doing. I received great care.”

New treatment methods are also being introduced to patient care for treating certain conditions. “We will be introducing massage, music, and essential oils therapies to help treat delirium,” specified Lindsey Spencer, director of acute care services. “The evaluation we are conducting on our current care methods for our elder patients will also give us an opportunity to adjust care plans to provide new and alternative treatment methods that best meet the needs of each individual patient,” continued Spencer.

“UVMC shows a tremendous commitment to meet the most critical challenge of our times - quality care of older adults,” says Liz Capezuti, PhD, RN, FAAN, NICHE director. Likewise, Dr. John W. Rowe, Professor in Successful Aging, New York University College of Nursing said, “UVMCs dedication to drive continuous improvement processes and enhance care marks them as leaders in the field.”

(Pictured: UVMC Nursing team pose with a grateful patient, Eugene Lewis of Ft. Bragg. Pictured from Left to right: Tanya Przybylowski RN, Brandy Mcrae RN, Jill Bartolomie RN, Jessica Lund RN, and Aleksa Mendive RN, surround Eugene Lewis of Ft. Bragg, a very grateful patient.)


NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) is the leading nurse driven program designed to help hospitals improve the care of older adults. The vision of NICHE is for all patients 65-and-over to be given sensitive and exemplary care. The mission of NICHE is to provide principles and tools to stimulate a change in the culture of healthcare facilities to achieve patient-centered care for older adults. NICHE, based at NYU College of Nursing and comprised of almost 450 hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout North America, engages hospitals and their affiliates in achieving and sustaining the NICHE designation. NICHE designation demonstrates a hospital's organizational commitment and continued progress in improving quality, enhancing the patient and family experience, and supporting hospitals’ efforts to serve their communities. For more information visit