UPMC gets $19M grant to curb readmissions
By Rick Wills
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 12:25 a.m.
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
UPMC received a $19 million federal grant to reduce preventable readmissions of nursing home patients, the hospital system announced on Tuesday.
The grant is given amid a push by the federal government to reduce hospital readmissions overall.
The money will be used to improve medical services in nursing homes so that patients who develop problems after being discharged from the hospital don't have to return.
“This is important, especially when you are talking about nursing home residents, who are often frail,” said Ray Landis, advocacy manager for AARP Pennsylvania.
The new health care law allows Medicare, starting next year, to levy financial penalties for hospitals based on readmission rates.
About 45 percent of hospitalizations among Medicaid and Medicare enrollees can be avoided, saving about $8 billion annually, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Potentially avoidable hospitalizations among nursing facility residents stem from multiple system failures, including inadequate primary care in nursing facilities and lack of skilled staff in nursing facilities,” said Emma Sandoe, a policy analyst with the department.
The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation awarded grants to UPMC and six other hospital systems. UPMC will use its four-year grant at 16 area nursing homes to improve use of nurse practitioners, medication management, patient monitoring and information technology.
UPMC will partner with Excela Health, Heritage Valley Health System, Jewish Healthcare Foundation and Robert Morris University, which has a lab to train nursing home employees.
During the past year, UPMC reduced hospital readmissions by 38 percent from its four nursing homes: Seneca Place in Verona, Canterbury Place in Lawrenceville, Cranberry Place and Heritage Place in Squirrel Hill.
“Readmission to the hospital is often the path of least resistance,” said Katy Lanz, director of geriatric services and education at UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute and co-director of the program to reduce readmissions.
As an example, Lanz cited someone suffering from dementia who refuses to eat and is restrained before going to the emergency room to be hydrated.
“This is a procedure that a skilled-nursing facility should be able to handle,” Lanz said.
If a skilled-nursing facility has adequate equipment, trained staff and follows the right procedures, many hospital readmissions could be avoided, said Diane Dewar, associate dean at the School of Public Health at the University at Albany, State University of New York.
“High readmission rates imply poor quality care, communication and coordination,” she said.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at email@example.com.
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