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Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center: New rapid response team will benefit patients dealing with chronic disease


Thu, Oct 15th 2015 03:00 pm

People with chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure and bacterial pneumonia now have a new care option.

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center today announced it has implemented an innovative program that assigns a "guardian angel" to work with patients in its ER1 Emergency Department.

Dubbed the "Rapid Response Team Process," it's designed to help those patients and their families cut through the red tape and transition them directly to the most appropriate level of care.

The rapid response project is designed to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions and to achieve health care cost-savings by placing patients in the most appropriate and most cost-effective level of care.

"Many patients served by the project will return to home with home care or be placed for a short stay in a sub-acute facility without an intervening hospital admission," Chief Operating Officer Sheila K. Kee said. "These are patients who have customarily been admitted for hospital stays, which may not have been the best placement option."

The rapid response team is one of many innovative care models being brought on line by the Millennium Collaborative Care performing provider system as part of the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program, the statewide initiative championed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to improve health care throughout the state.

It is the only care model of its type in Western New York.

Many patients with chronic conditions go to the emergency department seeking relief, Kee said. The project will not only link patients to the appropriate level of care right from the ER, but it will also connect eligible Medicaid patients to the NFMMC Health Home to permit them to receive ongoing care management services.

At Memorial, such patients will now be met by Kelly Duffy, a registered nurse and new rapid response team coordinator, who will give them focused attention.

"This 'guardian angel' will consult with the ER physician prior to an admission decision being made," Kee said. "Kelly will help patients and family members understand their options. She will coordinate the system to connect patients to cost-effective home care or short-term medical assistance in a sub-acute facility such as the Schoellkopf Health Center. She will navigate the system to carry out whatever decision is deemed best for the patient."

Kee announced the "Rapid Response Team Process" at ceremonies celebrating the completion of $1.5 million in upgrades at Memorial's Schoellkopf Health Center, a 120-bed skilled nursing facility that provides subacute, short-term rehab and hospice care.

"A short stay in a homelike, attractive facility such as this with access to necessary care can be a very attractive option for patients hoping to avoid a hospital stay," Memorial President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo said.

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