Monday, July 28, 2014

Reducing Hospital Readmissions

I completed reading an article by Rev. Malcolm Marler, Director of Pastoral Care, University of Alabama Medical Center, titled Support Teams Network Aims to Reduce Hospital Readmissions. You can find this article in the Summer 2014 edition of Caring for the Human Spirit Magazine. His contention is that to reduce hospital readmissions “we need to partner with the community, train lay people. It’s one piece of a big jigsaw puzzle that is today’s health care system.” While not every patient that is readmitted to the hospital is a hospice patient, it needs to be heard that hospice does a great job limiting readmissions due to excellent care of hospice patients. Our patients are urged to call the hospice telephone number in the middle of the night if they sense they need to go to the hospital. A nurse will go to the patient’s home to provide medical care. One of the goals of hospice is to keep readmissions down as hospitals have to pick up the tab if the patient is readmitted within 30 days. Yes, the new health care system is a big jigsaw puzzle. Hospitals and hospices are working diligently to navigate through the turbulent waters of today’s healthcare system. Where does the hospice Chaplain fit in this issue? There are three actions the hospice Chaplain can take in helping reduce readmissions: 1. Listen to the patient and caregiver for their history in seeking medical care. Where have they sought treatment prior to hospice? Pass these findings on to the IDT members. 2. Re-enforce education on the hospice model of care. The nurse and social worker more than likely have educated the patient and caregiver about how to handle after hours medical crises. 3. Observe decline. If the patient has declined significantly since the last visit, alert the nurse. The nurse may or may not know of the recent indications of decline. The Chaplain is a vital set of eyes and ears for the medical team. Regarding decline, I have taught our Chaplains at Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc., The Big MAC. In the next blog post I will share what that is all about. Until then, thanks for all you do to provide excellent spiritual care!

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