Donita Wolf knows her nursing team is second to none and now she has the numbers to prove it.
As director of Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice (GBHH&H), Wolf recently learned the non-profit agency has the best ranking locally, and better than statewide and national averages when it comes to re-hospitalizations.
“We have worked very hard to decrease our number of re-hospitalizations,” Wolf said. “Re-admitting patients to the hospital is costing Medicare, insurance companies and the taxpayers a lot of money – in many cases unnecessarily.”
This is one of those cases in which the lower the number the better. GBHH&H has a 12 percent re-hospitalization rate. The state figure is 17 percent and nationally it is 16 percent.
In addition, Wolf noted, the agency has the best ranking in Barton and surrounding counties. Those who want more information about home-health providers may visit www.medicare.gov/homehealthcompare.
“When we welcome a patient to our home-health care after a hospital stay, we consider their risk for re-admission,” Wolf said. “We are increasing our number of home visits for those patients at greater risk. Assessments are made about their needs, symptoms and other issues to decrease the likelihood of being re-admitted.”
For example, the 12 nurses at GBHH&H take steps to prevent infections, educate patients, keep doctors informed and provide services for as long as medically necessary. They also check on how the patient is eating and drinking, and taking prescribed medications.
GBHH&H cares for 60-80 patients at any one time, and a nurse is a phone call away at all times.
“Patients and families can call the nurse instead of immediately going to the emergency room,” Wolf said. “The nurse can also contact the physician to determine if the matter can be handled at home instead of a hospital.
“However,” Wolf emphasized, “families can be assured that patients will go to the hospital if that is the best solution. And if they need home-health again, we will provide care for as long as medically necessary.”
Health-care reforms have brought new urgency to preventing unnecessary re-hospitalizations. For example, too many re-admissions can affect a hospital’s Medicare reimbursement rate.
According to a Medicare Payment Advisory Committee analysis, up to 76 percent of re-hospitalizations within 30 days for those on Medicare are potentially avoidable.
“Avoidable hospitalizations and re-hospitalizations are frequent, potentially harmful and expensive,” the committee’s report said. “(They) represent a significant area of waste and inefficiency …”
GBHH&H is part of the St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center family; St. Rose is under the Centura Health umbrella. Wolf noted that Centura is playing an instrumental role in providing quality services.
“The Centura professionals understand the importance of home-health care,” Wolf said. “They not only have medical professionals on our team, they also provide expertise on regulatory and quality standards. Their input helps us enhance our services.”
GBHH&H has been serving patients locally since 1979. Its service area includes Barton, Pawnee, Rush and parts of Stafford counties.
Centura Health connects individuals and families across western Kansas and Colorado with more than 6,000 physicians, 15 hospitals, seven senior-living communities, physician practices and clinics, and home-care and hospice services.