Post-Dispatch, October 14, 2011
When patients leave the hospital, it doesn't mean they're cured. If they don't take their medicine, improve their diet or get check-ups, they can end up back in the hospital. More than any other hospital in the region, Barnes-Jewish Hospital in the Central West End struggles with high numbers of returning patients. The hospital needs to reduce the number of patients who were already in the hospital within the past month or face a loss of Medicare payments. A certain percentage of those readmissions are unavoidable. Other times, patients just need help filling their prescriptions or following through with discharge instructions. Or they come back to the emergency room because they have nowhere else to go. That's where the hospital's newly opened Stay Healthy Clinic comes in. Dr. Henish Bhansali runs the clinic, where he sees patients within a week of their release from Barnes. Patients who are identified during their hospital stay as vulnerable— they have a diagnosis of heart failure and their social situation puts them at risk to return—are given an appointment in the clinic within a week of their initial discharge. The hospital can arrange transportation and provide cab vouchers for the return visit.