WSAZ documentary sparks ideas from future caregivers

13 students, with the guidance of their two teachers have been formally pitching their ideas about how to protect patients with dementia to officials.
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 6:44 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - In a follow-up to our January 2022 investigation about a man with dementia who was taken to a hospital but was able to walk away and died, we introduced you last week to teachers and students who have been using our coverage as a teaching tool.

Those students have secured grant funding, and a local hospital, as well as a private practice, have committed to using their ideas to keep patients in our area safe.

The 13 students, with the guidance of their two teachers have been formally pitching their ideas about how to protect patients with dementia to local health care leaders.

In April, we first introduced viewers to the students and their instructor Andrea Clark.

The Health Sciences Class at Mingo Central watched our documentary “53 Days | Chuck’s story.” It’s the story of Chuck Carroll, a man with dementia, who was taken to Cabell Huntington Hospital but was able to walk away and die.

Chuck’s story really hit home with educators and students determined to make a difference for future patients, with Chuck’s story on their minds.

Their ideas include printing all paperwork for patients with dementia on purple paper.

Soon, those ideas will become reality at a local hospital and private practice because these students didn’t just come up with the ideas, they applied for a $30,000 grant to fund the projects and got it.

Representatives from Logan Regional Medical Center and Williamson Health and Wellness attended the presentation and were blown away.

“To take your story, and see the potential for what they could do is amazing to me,” said Amy Hannah with Williamson Health and Wellness.

“I believe my directors made the comment, ‘I can’t believe they are in high school, and they’ve thought of this, and they’ve come up with these great ideas,’ " said Jeanette Sexton, chief nursing officer with Logan Regional Medical Center.

Both Logan Regional and Williamson Health and Wellness are on board to roll out the purple pants, as well as the purple paper.

“Yes, absolutely, they will be implemented at our place,” Amy Hannah said.

“And from us, we have every intention on using all of your ideas to help us and help our patients,” Sexton said.

Health care leaders believe the ideas could go far beyond their facilities.

“I could see other communities and schools, hospitals, private practices from around the state saying, ‘oh my gosh, it worked there. Let’s see how we can implement it here.’ " And it may be that they have to change a few things, but i can see that it’s something that could work. It’s easy enough to work anywhere,” Amy Hannah said.

Their work hopefully will be an inspiration to other students in West Virginia.

“I will be sharing your project and your video with the permission of your teachers with all the health science education instructors around the state and ask them to rise to the challenge to meet what you have done,” said Ashley Torres with the West Virginia Department of Education.

It’s proof that passionate educators and forward-thinking teens can push for even higher health care standards in the years to come.

“They are not mine, but I could not be more proud if they were. This is what you want students to be. You want them to strive to make a difference and to see them excel in this is just amazing. It’s everything that you want from students. How could we not be super proud?” Amy Hannah said.

So far, there’s no timeline on when Logan Regional Hospital and Williamson Health and Wellness will be implementing the ideas, but we will be following up with them.

Earlier this year, we also learned from the interim superintendent of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services that the department is working with the West Virginia Hospital Association to ensure hospitals across the state are aware of how to report concerns regarding a protected person or incapacitated adult to DHHR.