As the Affordable Care Act continues to reconstruct health care in America, area hospitals are undertaking cost-cutting measures that are savings millions in an effort to curb their own costs and costs passed down to consumers.
Locally, officials at both Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and Mount St. Mary’s Hospital say they are saving millions by trying to keep and maintain the health of those in the communities they serve.
Both hospitals have put social workers in their emergency rooms to see to the needs of their most chronically ill patients, to make sure the patient understands the follow-up medications and procedures and to decrease the possibility of re-admissions.
At Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, according to chief Judith Maness, cost-cutting measures also include creating a new culture to reduce error and waste as well as a variety of collaborations to address primary care needs of the hospitals most vulnerable patients, which include neighborhood health centers.
Memorial Medical Center recently opened a community Wellness Center for their behavioral health clients which links individuals to community-based services including housing, food, clothing, outpatient mental health, addiction treatment. It will help avoid costly and often unnecessary hospital admissions, according to Shiela Kees, the hospital’s chief operating officer.
“I really believe a huge part of essential cost savings can be determined by two worlds — care management,” Kee said. “Care management is designed to do a couple of things. It takes a patient by the hand ... and makes sure they connect with the services they need and that they stay connected.”
She said people often get discharged from the hospital and don’t follow through on their care, which leads to expensive re-admissions, at thousands of dollars per stay. Keeping people well and out of the hospital is key.
“To me, it’s the answer to a lot of issues, it really is,” she said.
HEALING HEALTH CARE This is the second installment in our series examining the nation's health care as it impacts the lives of residents of the Niagara region. Look for part one on our website, www.niagara-gazette.com • FEB. 16: Patients and their families deal with steep health care increases • TODAY: Pharmacists, doctors cope with rising costs