Bay Pines VA honored achieves ‘Exemplar’ status for NICHE program

The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System (VAHCS) achieved “Exemplar” status for the Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) program again this year. NICHE is the premier designation indicating a hospital’s commitment to excellence in the care of patients 65-years-and-older. The “Exemplar” status recognizes the Bay Pines VAHCS’s ongoing dedication to geriatric care and system-wide interventions and initiatives that demonstrate organizational commitment to the care of older adults.

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“Exemplar” status is the highest of four possible program levels and was assigned following a rigorous program evaluation of the current state and future goals of the NICHE program at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center and VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics located across southwest Florida.

“Exemplar” status requirements include implementation of the NICHE Geriatric Resource Nurse (GRN) model and evidence-based protocols on all applicable units, including specialty units; implementation of systemic aging-sensitive policies; inclusion of the input of patient, families, and community-based providers in planning and implementation of NICHE initiatives; and assuming regional and national leadership roles.

“This is the fourth consecutive year Bay Pines has received the NICHE designation of Exemplar. Our dedicated Nursing professionals are among the best in the delivery of geriatric care and I am incredibly proud of their dedication to providing personalized, proactive, patient driven care to America’s heroes,” said Suzanne M. Klinker, Director, Bay Pines VAHCS.

“Each year, participation in the NICHE program enables our healthcare system to offer evidence-based, interdisciplinary approaches that promote better outcomes, positive experiences, and improved care for Veterans receiving. This ultimately leads to greater satisfaction for Veterans, their families, and staff,” she said.

Of the 700 facilities with NICHE designation, only 84 carry the NICHE Exemplar status.  Of these 84 facilities, Bay Pines VAHCS is the only VA facility with this designation.


NICHE is an international program designed to help 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, has over 550 hospitals and healthcare organizations from the U.S., Canada, Bermuda and Singapore in the network. For more information visit

About the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

The Bay Pines VAHCS is one of the nation’s leading VA healthcare systems, employing more than 4,000 medical professionals and support staff dedicated to providing the very best care to Veteransresiding in southwest Florida. The organization is the fifth busiest VA health care system in the country in terms of patients served and is accredited by The Joint Commission, Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and several other nationally recognized accrediting organizations. The Bay Pines VAHCS operates nine facilities to include the main medical center located in Bay Pines and outpatient clinics located in Bradenton, Cape Coral, Naples, Palm Harbor, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and Sebring. To learn more, please visit, like us on Facebook at, or follow us on Twitter at

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