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Butler Health System program aims for improved home care for high-risk patients

| Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Butler Health System is starting a program that aims to improve care and lower readmissions of high-risk patients.

The Primary Care Resource Center at Butler Memorial Hospital seeks to ease the transition from inpatient to outpatient care for patients with conditions that put them at risk of returning to the hospital, said Jana Panther, spokeswoman for Butler Health System.

Center staff will monitor patients admitted to the hospital with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease. Patients will be educated about their condition, medications, treatment and receive a care plan to follow at home.

Center staff will make follow-up phone calls and conduct home visits as needed, Panther said.

“People leave, and if they don't take care of themselves, they end up back here too soon,” Panther said. “We're trying to keep that from happening.”

The center opened in early August, but the health system has scheduled a grand opening reception from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday at 5 North, Butler Memorial Hospital. Visitors can tour the center from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day.

The Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative, a regional health care collaborative, received a $10 million grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to establish the primary care resource centers, said Dr. Keith Kanel, chief medical officer for the initiative.

The initiative chose Butler Memorial Hospital as one of six local hospital systems to receive a center. The others are Sharon Regional Health System, Wheeling Hospital, Uniontown Hospital, Indiana Regional Medical Center and Monongahela Valley Hospital.

The six resource centers will save about $41 million during the three years of the grant, according to the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative.

“Butler is one of the leaders in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh. They always have been, and we've always admired their work,” Kanel said. “We're always looking for ways to collaborate with Butler.”

Hospital readmissions are costly for insurers. Medicare, the federal government's insurance program for the elderly, wants readmissions to decline. In October, it began cutting reimbursements to hospitals with too many patients who returned with the same problem in 30 days or less.

The new Butler center is staffed by three nurse-care managers, a pharmacist and administrative support, all of whom are paid through the grant, Kanel said.

“We created these positions with the intent that this is the future of health care,” he said.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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