VHA Innovation Ecosystem and Office of Nursing Services are proud to celebrate the Year of the Nurse by highlighting a unique nurse-led innovation, or promising practice, each month for the remainder of 2020. With over 80,000 nurses, VA is the largest employer of nurses in the nation. This month, we introduce employee innovator Denise Kresevic from the Cleveland VA Medical Center.

For Denise Kresevic, compassion and science go hand-in-hand when it comes to nursing.

“Nurses take the ‘science’ and apply those principles to their care using the ‘art of nursing and caring,’” Kresevic said. “It is always a bit different depending on the person and situation.”

Her perspective comes from her past, going on rounds with her grandma, the “neighborhood nurse”. Denise’s grandma would pack-up her little black bag, full of items like lotions, recipes, books and creams. They headed to a neighbor’s house who needed a bit of support and care. Her grandmother encouraged Kresevic to develop her own skills. These included compassion, listening, and caring—and to teach others how to stay healthy—the foundational nursing skills.

Carrying that experience forward

Kresevic has carried that experience, and the perspective of nursing as both a scientific and an empathetic profession, with her throughout her career. Now she’s adding innovator to her list of nursing capacities through the VHA Innovators Network (iNET) Spark-Seed-Spread Innovation Investment Program. Kresevic, and her team will spend the next year investigating individualized “holistic” interventions for terminally ill Veterans and their families. This will help potentially minimize sedation and the acute confusion (delirium) that often accompanies the use of multiple pain/anxiety medications. Through methods like meditation, guided imagery, aromatherapy, robotic dogs and music therapy, the team hopes to explore options beyond medication to manage pain and anxiety.

Her work in this area started with an observation made by nearly all innovators: There has to be a better way. After working many nights at the bedside of dying patients who suffered from delirium and other issues, Kresevic wanted to find solutions. The timing was right; the health care community is becoming more accepting of complementary therapies, including relaxation and meditation, as potent interventions that may ignite an individual’s self-healing.

The outcome of this discovery work will be the eventual design of a new model of care or program to improve the quality of life for Veterans nearing the end of their lives and their families.

“Denise is so passionate,” said Cleveland Innovation Specialist Bill Corcuera. “I hear her desire to make life easier for these Veterans in her voice every time we talk. It’s wonderful to have her involved in innovation at Cleveland.”

Thank you, Denise Kresevic, for being a nurse innovator. Celebrate the Year of the Nurse and follow Kresevic’s story all month on Facebook and Twitter.

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Published on Nov. 18, 2020

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