According to recent reports, over half of hospitals will receive Medicare reimbursement penalties for high readmission rates in 2015. As a result, hospitals across the country are looking for innovative ways to respond to the national mandate under the Affordable Care Act to reduce costly hospital readmissions and ensure patients can maintain their health after discharge.
One county in California has formed a unique partnership between area hospitals and Meals on Wheels to provide meals to elderly patients in the community, reports the Contra Costa Times. According to Meals on Wheels and Senior Outreach Services executive director Elaine Clark, the most common cause for seniors to return to the hospital is poor nutrition. The new partnership helps seniors to remain at home, and offers a solution for impoverished seniors who may not be able to afford healthy meals (87% of the clients are low income).
While Senior Outreach Services offers a number of services to the community, this pilot program represents a commitment to work with larger institutions on improving the overall health of the community. In addition to providing meals to seniors, the drivers act as a social support system for the clients, checking in on them daily and sometimes acting as a lifeline if they can’t reach clients by phone or knocking.
By offering a sense of social and health support, this new partnership serves as a bridge between the hospitals and patients after they return to the community. Through partnerships such as this, hospitals are acknowledging their responsibility for the patient, even after discharge.