The NPWT Switch Worth Making: How Medela Made Our Hospital’s Transition Seamless

When the executive board at Kaleida Health in Western New York decided to switch from their existing negative pressure wound therapy system to Medela for both clinical- and cost-related reasons, Michelle “Mickey” Monte, MSN RN, had butterflies in her stomach. That’s because the transition would begin at Buffalo General Medical Center, the largest facility in the Kaleida network, where Mickey is Clinical Educator with the Wound Team.

The NPWT Switch Worth Making Mickey and Carol

I can’t believe how seamless this transition ultimately was. It ran as smooth as butter.”

—Michelle “Mickey” Monte, MSN RN, Clinical Nurse Education.

Mickey Monte (left) and Carol Davis (right) 

Mickey suddenly had a potentially herculean task in front of her: take the lead and train nearly 3,000 nurses on the Medela NPWT system, which would replace the NPWT systems they had been using for years.

Mickey knew she couldn’t do it alone—and luckily, she didn’t have to.

She had a partner throughout the transition just as driven and determined to succeed as she was.


“Whenever I asked something of Carol she was there. She always had my back.”

—Michelle “Mickey” Monte

That person was Carol Davis, RN, BSN, CWOCN, Clinical Sales Specialist at Medela, who integrated with the team at Buffalo General Medical Center right from the start. “I knew from the moment I met Carol that she was just like me and, together, we would make this succeed. It was just like working with my sister— I instantly felt like I’d known Carol for decades.”

Mickey and Carol met at least on a weekly basis, at first to set their agenda for the training program and then to troubleshoot, course correct, and revise as needed as the program rolled out. Together, they created and implemented a 4-pronged approach to the training, which ultimately helped ensure their success.


The complex nature of training nearly 3,000 nurses who worked different shifts on different days of the week (including Saturdays and Sundays) required a realistic approach. Mickey’s team had to accommodate day-to-day challenges even as they assertively encouraged participation.

Toward that end, Mickey and Carol implemented the following 4 strategies. They recommend a similar approach to teams undertaking a transition in any hospital, large or small.

1. Engage nurse managers as Transition Champions

Mickey recognized the importance of winning the support of nurse managers at the outset and focused on recruiting them for training at their staff meetings and through more informal interactions. In doing so, she:

  • “Trained the trainers” to be part of the process and to become the authorities that day-to-day staff could turn to for training, support, and questions
  • Created a cohort of advocates who helped promote the program and build enthusiasm for it among the nursing staff
  • Relieved some of the pressure on Buffalo General’s wound team, which was being overburdened with responsibility for nearly every NPWT wound VAC, empowering the nursing staff to perform within their scope of practice.

2. Offer training classes in multiple formats

The hands-on were amazing, we always had a pump for people to hold and interact with. That made them so much more comfortable, and the transition was so much easier after that.”

—Michelle “Mickey” Monte

  • Proper pre-training preparation was an essential first step. Using the online Talent Management system at Kaleida Health, Buffalo General, Mickey and her team:
  • Created an introductory webinar that nurses were required to complete and receive a certificate for, prior to “graduating” to hands-on training
  • Utilized simple and short videos supplied by Medela to communicate a foundational understanding of wound dressings and the functioning of the NPWT pump
  • Hands-on, in-person training sessions. These classes proved to be one of the most effective and well-received elements of the training rollout, and were:
  • Limited to 20-25 minutes a session, making it easier for nurses to come off their unit, engage with the training, and then get back to work in a timely fashion
  • Fully interactive, with opportunities to get “hands-on” with the Medela NPWT pump, ask questions, tackle challenges, and take home supplemental training booklets

3. Schedule classes as often as possible with manageable roster sizes

  • Recognizing that nurses work multiple shifts at all hours of the day and night, Mickey and her team scheduled training classes on multiple days, during mornings, afternoons and nights—even on weekends.
  • To maximize training exposure and facilitate a deeper understanding, every participant was allowed to attend sessions as many times as they needed.
  • Class sizes ranged between 12 and 20 nurses per session, ensuring everyone an opportunity for hands-on participation.

4. Maximize participation with a skillful reminder system, using email and flyers

“We started at Buffalo General because we’re the largest institution, but then pulsed it out to 3 other hospitals in the Kaleida network with everyone taking the same approach. It was a huge success.”

—Michelle “Mickey” Monte

  • Mickey and her team “hit nurses from every angle” to keep training top-of-mind all the time and remind them of the importance of a smooth transition. The team:
  1. Displayed reminder posters prominently on units in all participating hospitals.
  2. Referenced training at every opportunity during staff meetings and impromptu huddles among nurse managers and charge nurses.
  3. Sent gentle “don’t forget Medela training” emails to nurse managers

Mickey and her team knew that if the transition could go seamlessly at an institution the size of Buffalo General, tremendous success was possible across the network.


The approach Mickey, Carol, and the rest of the Buffalo General and Medela team took proved its worth once the training program was complete. According to Mickey: “There was barely any resistance to the transition from nearly 3,000 nurses—that’s really saying something. Even the wound team, who had been deeply engaged with our previous NPWT system for years, went with the flow and accepted the change.”

Mickey is amazed when she reflects on how dramatically her experience with the Medela transition differs from previous transitions. In fact, she describes a switch undertaken with another wound vac company at Buffalo General as “…leaving everyone in an uproar. It’s been 3 years and we’re still feeling the stress, getting complaints.”

The Medela transition, on the other hand, “just came and went. It was an incredibly easy transition.”


“Carol is actually coming back to give an in-service to our wound team and become even more involved. I couldn’t be happier. I love working with Medela.”

—Michelle “Mickey” Monte

Now that the switch has been made, Mickey reflects that the real proof of its success is not so much the ease of transition but how nurses feel about the Medela wound VAC system.

Here, she again hearkens back to hands-on experience. Most nurses prefer visual learning cues. She noted that nurses now prefer the Medela NPWT system because it is:

  • Lighter and easier to use than Buffalo General’s previous NPWT system
  • Less distracting and disruptive, with minimal alarm noises

As Mickey recounts it: “When we trained the nurses, they were excited to see how intuitive the pump was, with features like secure connections and a compact design that made handling easy. That excitement continues to show, in our nurses’ overall preference for the Medela NPWT VAC.”


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