-image courtesy southcoast.org
Herald News Staff Reporter
Posted Jan. 30, 2014 @ 9:46 pm
Updated at 10:50 PM
FALL RIVER — Charlton Memorial Hospital has been awarded a $397,862 grant from the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission to more effectively manage the care of high-risk patients.
“We really are truly grateful,” said Stephen Pires, vice president of Care Continuum and Risk Services for Southcoast Hospitals Group. “It benefits us, and it benefits the community we’re serving.”
Pires said he worked on the grant that was awarded to Charlton in order to provide “seed money” to begin a program focused on care coordination and management.
He said the funding will be used to hire three experienced registered nurses who will assist patients and families with coordinating their care outside the hospital. Pires said the program is geared toward patients with complex cases and those with multiple diagnoses and specialists, and those who have frequent hospital stays or emergency room visits.
Pires said the program will “help them experience better health care” by making sure they have a primary care doctor, and by looking at what services might benefit the patient.
The program aims to do things like streamline testing and blood work so it isn’t performed multiple times for different physicians. It may also look at whether a patient is filling their prescriptions, and how it can ease the process of going home after a hospital stay.
It may involve offering home visits, assessments, phone calls and even accompanying a patient to a physician’s office visit.
“Our mission is to care for the community,” Pires said. “This really gives us a jumpstart to get this initiative off the ground.”
He said Southcoast, like many other health care systems, is building these programs and identifying new ways to benefit their patients.
Pires said the three registered nurses will begin work on the program on Feb. 24. He said they will make contact with primary care physicians to identify patients who could benefit from the service.
Pires said Southcoast was approved as an accountable care organization last year, so this program fits that approach.
The seed money, Pires explained, will build a “patient-centered” program at Charlton. Later, it will be expanded to Southcoast’s St. Luke’s and Tobey hospitals.
“This will be a permanent structure at Southcoast,” Pires said. “It’s exciting work really.”
The Health Policy Commission, an independent state agency created through the Legislature’s landmark health care cost containment law of 2012, has granted some $10 million to 28 community hospitals across the commonwealth through Phase 1 of the Community Hospital Acceleration, Revitalization and Transformation (CHART) Investment Program.
St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford received a $385,395 grant to improve behavioral health services in the community. Tobey Hospital in Wareham has been awarded $400,100 to provide diabetes care coordination.
Local legislators, Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, Reps. Carole Fiola, D-Fall River, Paul A. Schmid, D-Westport, and Alan Silvia, D-Fall River, were instrumental in securing these funds.
“This grant will enable Charlton Memorial Hospital to continue its delivery of top-notch health care, while keeping an eye on rising costs,” said Rodrigues. “Ensuring that those seeking medical care on the SouthCoast can attain exemplary, yet affordable care is important for the entire region, and I am grateful to the Health Policy Commission for its partnership in achieving these goals.”