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Local program aims to lower hospital re-admission

Friday, December 23, 2011

A local program is helping to keep some people healthier and out of the hospital.

It's estimated more than 15% of people who are admitted into a local hospital are actually being re-admitted; meaning they had just recently been discharged and are back. It's not good for the patient or the healthcare system.

But there is a new project is helping to turn those statistics around.

82-year-old Martin Gorman has congestive heart failure. Unfortunately he's been in and out of the hospital many times. But in an effort to stop that cycle, he is working with registered nurse Tracey Hack and others as part of a project called PAVE or "preventing avoidable episodes."

Nurses spend extra time teaching patients about their illness, their medication, and how to manage their health at home.

Tracey says the teaching starts right away and continues once they go home. She calls them weekly.

"What I try to emphasize is that they are not alone. They can always call me. No question is too big or too small; call me with anything," said Tracey.

That way, problems can be caught early when they can still be managed at home. The project seems to be working.

Kate Flynn of the Health Care Improvement Foundation which led the PAVE project says over 18 months, 18 hospitals in our region have cut the re-admission rate by 7%.

"That means 400 patients were avoided the opportunity for re-admission in those 18 reporting hospitals," said Flynn. That also means savings for taxpayers.

Cutting re-admission rates means cutting Medicare and Medicaid spending. It can also help lower premiums for private health insurance. "It really has a benefit to everyone, most of all the patients themselves," said Flynn.

"This ain't bad now that I've gotten used to it but, of course, I'd rather be home," said Martin Gorman.

The PAVE project was funded by Independence Blue Cross and the hospitals themselves. The program will continue. The goal is to cut the re-admission rate by 10%.

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