awarded flex grant
Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics was recently awarded Flex grant from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Office of Rural Health and Primary Care. The Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility grants are available for Critical Access Hospitals to help improve the quality of patient care and to enhance the performance of small hospitals. CAHs are rural facilities with 25 beds or less.
The goal of the $25,000 grant is to reduce the number of hospital readmissions by automatically referring high risk patients to the Visiting Nurse Services program when a patient is discharged from the hospital. The VNS program, administered by CVHC and St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood, was the first one established in the state of Idaho.
According to Pam McBride, CVHC/SMHC Chief Grants Officer, the Flex grant was awarded to CVHC as a pilot project. Once the program design is finalized and if the program’s effectiveness is documented it will be implemented at SMH.
“Nationwide, Medicare is really looking at the number of inpatients who are released from the hospital and then readmitted shortly thereafter,” said Sharon Moriarty, CVH Director of Nursing Services. “We’re trying to be proactive by figuring out additional ways to reduce our readmission rates.”
As part of the grant, electronic medical record systems will be used to review the medications each patient is taking. With the advent of EMRs it is easier to track medications that have been prescribed through clinic and specialist visits, in addition to those prescribed while the patient is in the hospital. Reconciling those medications within 24 hours of admission is an important component of the project.
Using grant funds, readmission rates will be tracked for all patients at 30, 60 and 90 days for VNS and non VNS-referred patients. In most instances, discharged patients will also automatically be scheduled for a clinic visit within a week of discharge. The goal of the program is to reduce 30 day readmission rates for high risk patients by 65% during the grant cycle, December, 2011 through August 31, 2012.
According to Kristy Fresh, CVHC/SMHC Director of Physician Services, the project’s goals dovetail with the implementation of patient centered medical homes within the eight clinics administered by the hospitals. “Our clinics are working towards being nationally certified as patient centered medical homes where all the patient’s healthcare needs will be coordinated through a medical home care team. The VNS nurses will form one of the bridges between the hospital and clinic based care teams,” said Fresh. “Medical homes emphasize continuity of care, individualized patient education about their specific health issues, a team approach to patient care, and proactive preventive care. This project could provide an innovative model for collaboration between critical access hospitals and safety-net clinics across the nation.”