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Memorial awarded $684K to support new Niagara Connection Center

by jmaloni
Tue, Oct 2nd 2012 05:30 pm

The New York State Department of Health has awarded Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center a Medicaid rate add-on award worth $684,952 over three years to support the Niagara Connection Center, an innovative restructuring of Memorial's mental health services.

"Memorial is one of only nine hospitals from across the state to receive this funding," said President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo. "We are most grateful for this recognition of the quality of our efforts."

"This award will help us achieve our three-fold objective of lowering costs, improving the quality of care to patients, and connecting discharged patients to a wide array of community services," Memorial Chief Operating Officer Sheila K. Kee said.

The core elements of the redesign plan are two case-management-driven initiatives.

•The short-stay intensive treatment program will reduce the length of Medicaid-funded inpatient stays on Memorial's behavioral health units. The program will intervene with individuals in acute psychiatric distress before the escalation of symptoms necessitates a longer-term hospitalization. The goal is to discharge and return patients to families, workplace, and community as quickly as possible or within 72 hours.

•The emergency department care coordination service will aim to reduce non-admitted repeat emergency department mental health visits and behavioral health readmissions by 20 percent each.

The Medicaid rate add-on will fund emergency department care coordinators and intensive case managers over a three-year period.

•Care coordinators will identify persons with frequent ED usage and redirect them to appropriate settings that can respond to their needs in a more rational and cost-effective way.

•The intensive case managers will provide psychosocial assessments, individual and family intervention, medication management, collaboration with primary care physicians and outpatient providers, aftercare planning, referrals and appointment scheduling.

"Patients served will include those with a first-time psychotic episode, those who stopped taking medications, individuals requiring medication recalibration, patients who have experienced a psychosocial crisis or patients suffering from substance-induced symptoms," Kee said.

During the first full year of the short-term intensive treatment program, an estimated $268,394 in taxpayer-funded Medicaid savings will be achieved while the ED care coordinators' efforts to reduce repeat visits and behavioral health readmissions are expected to lower Medicaid costs by $180,285.

Additional savings will be realized in years two and three.

"New York state's investment in Niagara Falls Memorial will yield many positive returns for the residents of Niagara County and New York state as a whole while improving outcomes for our patients," Kee said.

The Medicaid rate add-on is the state's second award in to be made in connection with Niagara Connection Center. In June, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah announced the awarding of $1.98 million in HEAL NY funding to implement the program.

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