Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Going Home Healthy Butler Care Center Aims to Reduce Readmissions for Patients with Chronic Conditions

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Going Home Healthy Butler Care Center Aims to Reduce Readmissions for Patients with Chronic Conditions

Article excerpt

Butler Health System is holding an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. today for its new Primary Care Resource Center, one of six centers opening at area hospitals in the next two months as part of a Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative project designed to reduce hospital readmissions.

The target audience is patients at highest risk of readmission, such as heart attack victims or those diagnosed with heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"These diseases very typically have co-morbidities. None of these diseases occur by themselves," said Keith Kanel, the health initiative's chief medical officer and principal investigator for the Primary Care Resource Center Project. They are also complicated diseases, he added, "where any misstep with diet, or forgetting meds, or the cost of the medications, or an ozone alert day" can trigger an emergency hospital visit.

"Our goal is to keep people healthy."

Although the Butler center is located at the hospital, its work is more educational than clinical.

The center's team -- consisting of three nurse care managers and a pharmacist, as well as nutritionists, behavioral health and other professionals -- meets with patients during the hospital stay.

Following discharge, the staff follows up with a home visit and patients are then encouraged to come to the center where they can meet with staff for help managing their conditions.

"When you are in the hospital, it is a stressful time and it is confusing," said center director Erin Stewart. "You may have a new diagnosis, and we've found that patients need that follow up. And it's beneficial for them to know they have the support."

The Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative project is funded by a three-year, $10.4 million grant from the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Besides Butler, the centers will be operating at Uniontown Hospital in Fayette County; Sharon Regional Health System in Mercer County; Conemaugh Health System in Johnstown, Cambria County; Indiana Regional Medical Center, Indiana County; and Wheeling Hospital in Wheeling, W. …

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