Up­per Ch­e­sa­peake Health, Union Hos­pi­tal re­ceive $9.2 mil­lion grant

Cecil Whig - - & - By BRI­ANNA SHEA

ELK­TON

bshea@ce­cil­whig.com

— Union Hos­pi­tal and Univer­sity of Mary­land Up­per Ch­e­sa­peake Health (UMUCH) re­cently re­ceived a four-year, $9.2 mil­lion grant to im­prove the qual­ity of life for Medi­care pa­tients with mul­ti­ple chronic con­di­tions.

The grant, which was awarded by the State of Mary­land’s Health Ser­vices Cost Re­view Com­mis­sion, will go to­ward de­vel­op­ing Well­ness Ac­tion Teams of Cecil, Har­ford, or WATCH, an out­reach pro­gram geared to­ward help­ing Medi­care pa­tients with two or more chronic con­di­tions or who have been hos­pi­tal­ized fre­quently. The health care providers will re­ceive $2.7 mil­lion start­ing this fis­cal year with the re­main­der to be given out in the fol­low­ing years, ac­cord­ing to a re­lease.

“The goal is to im­prove qual­ity of life through sup­port and care of our more vul­ner­a­ble neigh­bors,” said Lyle Shel­don, pres­i­dent and CEO of Up­per Ch­e­sa­peake Health in a state­ment. “Us­ing avail­able tech­nol­ogy and a uni­fied ap­proach, we will pro­vide a more ef­fi­cient and proac­tive method to serv­ing our com­mu­nity in need. Our re­gional part­ner­ship will work to­gether to pro­vide co­or­di­nated health care and so­cial re­sources to Medi­care pa­tients who are at high risk for se­ri­ous health com­pli­ca­tions.”

Those also in­volved in the part­ner­ship in­clude the health de­part­ments and Of­fices on Ag­ing in both coun­ties, Healthy Cecil and Healthy Har­ford, Fed­er­ally Qual­i­fied Health Cen­ters in both coun­ties and CRISP, the state health in­for­ma­tion ex­change, the re­lease stated. The pro­posal was part of a seven month plan­ning process that in­cluded Amedisys Home Health, Lorien Health, Har­ford County EMS, Hart to Heart Trans­porta­tion and Med Chi, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease.

The grant will help cre­ate four teams of care­givers, in­clud­ing one nurse, two com­mu­nity health work­ers and a so­cial worker to work with pa­tients in their homes and com­mu­nity, out­side the walls of a hos­pi­tal or doc­tor’s of­fice, to op­ti­mize their health. The teams will em­ploy tech­nol­ogy that will help pa­tients keep track of their ap­point­ments, med­i­ca­tions and other health­care needs, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease.

Pa­tients and care­givers will have the op­por­tu­nity to keep in con­tact with each other through in-home tele-mon­i­tor­ing and use tools such as care plans that are view­able by the providers, the re­lease stated.

The next step in im­ple­ment­ing the plan is to fi­nal­ize work­flows and op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures, hire WATCH team mem­bers and train the nurses, so­cial work­ers and com­mu­nity health work­ers, said Colin Ward, vice pres­i­dent of pop­u­la­tion health/clin­i­cal in­te­gra­tion for Up­per Ch­e­sa­peake Health.

The sec­ond phase of the im­ple­menta- tion in­volves hir­ing and train­ing com­mu­nity health work­ers that will work in the Health De­part­ments, Of­fices of Ag­ing and the two Fed­er­ally Qual­i­fied Health Cen­ters, West Cecil Health and Bea­con Health, Ward said. This phase will take place in Au­gust or Septem­ber, he added.

Some of the WATCH mem­bers are hos­pi­tal em­ploy­ees that have trans­ferred to work, Ward said, but more than half of the staff is new, though they do have ex­pe­ri­ence in other health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions and wanted to work in the com­mu­ni­ties they live in.

Ward said part­ner agen­cies will meet to re­fine the pro­gram.

“Pro­vid­ing the best pos­si­ble care at the right time and in the right place is key to im­prov­ing the health of our com­mu­nity,” said Dr. Richard Szumel, pres­i­dent and CEO of Union Hos­pi­tal in a pre­pared state­ment. “Work­ing with our com­mu­nity part­ners in Cecil and Har­ford coun­ties will help us de­velop and im­ple­ment new ap­proaches to the ever chang­ing health care land­scape.”

Last spring, both health care fa­cil­i­ties were one of nine coali­tions of health care providers in Mary­land to re­ceive fund­ing from the com­mis­sion to sup­port new ap­proaches to care by op­ti­miz­ing the health of res­i­dents, in­creas­ing the qual­ity of care and re­duc­ing avoid­able hos­pi­tal uti­liza­tion and costs, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease.

CECIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Union Hos­pi­tal, along with Up­per Ch­e­sa­peake Health, re­cently re­ceived a grant to help Medi­care pa­tients with chronic con­di­tions.

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