New Hospital Program Adds Personal Touch

Wheeling Hospital on Thursday unveiled its new Primary Care Resource Center – a program that aims to prevent patient readmissions by monitoring them after discharge.

The hospital is among a handful taking on the program that also is meant to prevent hospitals from receiving reduced Medicare payments based on readmissions. That reduction penalty was part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and became effective in October. Wheeling Hospital became part of the program by joining the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative, which received a Health Care Innovation Award grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation for the project.

Attending the press conference to explain the program were Dr. Angelo Georges, Wheeling Hospital’s chief medical officer; Dr. Karen Wolk Feinstein, Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative president and chief executive officer; Dr. Keith Kanel, PRHI chief medical officer and principal investigator; and Heidi Porter, Wheeling Hospital director of Quality Management.

The center’s team includes Kim Bauer, nurse care manager; Cara-Lyn Janeczko, social worker; Lisa Kazmirski, nurse care manager; Amy Blommel, pharmacist; and Ami Blanton, registered nurse.

Kanel said when a patient is released from the hospital they are interviewed to determined the root cause of their admission. They are also set up with the pharmacist to talk about their medications. They also receive 30 minutes of education about their condition and its management before leaving the hospital. Their primary care doctor also is notified of their admission and release. Once a patient goes home, they receive a phone call from a team member 72 hours later. And five days after a patient leaves the hospital, a team member will call and offer to do a home visit with the patient.

The team already has started working with patients during the last week and a half.

Kazmirski said she already feels like she is making a difference in people’s lives. For example, by just talking to one patient she discovered the reason they did not have a primary care doctor is that they could not fill out the proper paperwork because they could not read. Kazmirski filled out the forms and faxed them to a doctor. As a result, the patient already has received his first checkup.

”This puts the personal back into an electronic age,” Kazmirski said. ”We are going to have a huge impact on people. … It’s about having that person thank you for that and improving their quality of life.”

The center is located in the old emergency room area in the rear of the hospital. Each team member has their own station or area where they address patients’ needs.

”The goal of the PCRC project is to slow, stop or reverse chronic disease progression for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure or coronary heart disease, shifting the focus of care from inpatient to outpatient and home settings,” said Ron Violi, Wheeling Hospital chief executive officer.