Master clinicians help seniors’ quality of life

HARLINGEN — She spends her days helping others help themselves.

The clients at Retama Manor Nursing Center Harlingen must sometimes relearn basic skills after injury or illness. They must learn how to shower again, dress again, go to the bathroom and other key skills of daily living, and Claudia Munoz is there to help them do just that.

“Occupational therapy helps clients to live their lives as independently as they can, re-teaching them how to perform self care skills,” said Munoz, a registered occupational therapist.

Munoz is one of two people who just earned their credentials as master clinicians at Retama Manor. Daniel Benavidez, a certified occupational therapy assistant, earned his credential as an advanced clinician in seating and positioning. Munoz is now a master clinician in geriatrics.

“The master clinician program is our company’s way of promoting increased critical skills and knowledge in the area of geriatrics,” Munoz said. “We have to do research. We have to do case studies.”

Retama Manor is part of SavaSeniorCare, which provides skilled nursing, memory care and rehabilitative services across the United States. The master clinician program was implemented in the company about a year ago, said Jay Cobarrubias, program manager.

Stephanie Garza is another master clinician at Retama Manor who already has the credential.

“Within the SAVA corporation there are 25 master clinicians in the entire country,” Cobarrubias said.

Master clinicians like Munoz and Benavides must perform case studies on clients.

For example, Benavides did a case study on a 95-year-old resident, assessing the resident’s seating and positioning requirements.

“He looked to see how she could benefit from a more appropriate seating system,” Cobarrubias said.

Those who become master clinicians basically take an extra step in their field.

“It’s basically kind of like getting continuing education in the field that you already have,” he said.

The program, Munoz added, has a positive impact on the quality of care Retama gives its patients.

“It shows that we’re using evidence-based practice and increased knowledge, increased clinical skills, so that we give the best client care,” she said.