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Novant receives grant to partner with Rowan County EMS

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

Novant Health is turning to Rowan County to help provide transitional care for patients.

Starting Aug. 1, Rowan County Emergency Medical Services will visit some patients following a hospital discharge. Paramedics will monitor high-risk patients’ conditions and address medical problems before another hospital visit is required, according to a news release. The program is specifically intended for patients with congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the release stated.

The partnership is funded through a $251,855 grant over two years provided through The Duke Endowment to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center.

Rowan County EMS Division Chief Lennie Cooper said his organization would visit about 165 patient four times in the first year. Patients visited would most likely be high frequency users, he said.

“By visiting them on a scheduled basis and making sure that they’re taking proper care of themselves by following medication routines and following through with their discharge instructions, our hope is that we won’t see them back so soon,” Cooper said.

The intent of Novant’s partnership, a news release said, is to reduce a patient’s likelihood of readmission to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center and reduce emergency calls to 911. Rowan County EMS received about 15,000 calls per year.

Patients with congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are more likely to make frequent visits to the hospital for care.

“Up until now, we have not had the resources to do anything like this,” said Rowan Medical Center President Dari Caldwell. “We’re hoping that this process will help our patients remain healthy longer and experience less deterioration so that they can have more healthy days.”

As part of the partnership, patients with congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will receive a risk assessment before being discharged from the hospital to determine the severity of their condition and priority of care. A care coordinator will call patients within 48 hours of discharge to review instruction, assess ability to manage medication and discuss ability to comply with the discharge treatment plan.

“We feel that Rowan County is a great incubator for new programs like this,” Caldwell said. “We are large enough in size to be significant, but we are also the right size to test the new programs and be able to manage them. We are excited about this opportunity and feel blessed to have been selected.”

The new partnership is part of a larger $5 million grant that includes 15 hospitals. Hospitals were selected by the North Carolina Quality Center.

“It is our hope that as we improve patient care and outcomes, the lessons learned through this initiative will be shared with the health care systems throughout the Carolinas,” said Mary Piepenbring, vice president of Health Care at The Duke Endowment.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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