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Managing the Geriatric Boom

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, November 14, 2011
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Highland has established contractual relationships with at least 20 nursing homes that include physician visits, and there has been a vast reduction of patients moving back and forth from facility to hospital, which was the case years ago, according to Mendelson.

He says the relationships that the hospital has built with area nursing homes and assisted living facilities have led to a high proportion of admissions from those facilities. Those relationships also assist in discharge planning, an important part of the care model.

“If you provide [patients] hospital services efficiently, you save money in the big picture,” Mendelson says, referring to the hospital’s relationship with nursing facilities. “It gave us a source of inpatients, a patient population to draw from that initially kept the doors open and kept us competitive with the other hospitals. When two other hospital systems were closing a hospital, our volume increased and we became more successful as we became known for handling nursing home and assisted living patients.”

Success key No. 2: The geriatric ED

To improve care for the elderly, as well as throughput, hospitals are opening emergency departments designed for geriatric patients. The 100-staffed-bed Mercy St. Anne Hospital in Toledo, OH, this year opened the special unit, believing it was a better way to treat underlying conditions or chronic diseases that especially impact older patients. It also was a way to relieve crowding conditions in the regular ED, says Pam Kadlick, vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer for Mercy St. Anne.

“With the baby boomer population growing and one in five patients going to be 65 within the next few decades, we felt it was necessary to be a better community partner and do more for our patients in those situations,” she adds.

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