NFMMC sig Memorial

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center on 10th Street.

In an effort to cut down on avoidable ER visits and readmissions after receiving treatment, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center has pledged to help each patient connect with a primary care doctor within seven days after being discharged.

Based upon a model that originated in Camden, New Jersey, the 7-Day Pledge program guarantees a follow-up appointment at one of NFMMC's six primary care locations within a week of leaving the hospital. NFMMC CEO Joseph Ruffalo said the program has led to "significantly reduced" changes of being readmitted within 30 to 90 days of being discharged.

"The main goal of the program is to reduce potentially preventable emergency room visits and hospital readmissions," Ruffalo said. "Research shows that patients who complete a primary care appointment within seven days of a hospital discharge have a significantly reduced risk of a 30-day and/or 90-day hospital readmission."

He also noted that the research shows that patients are more likely to keep appointments when they are scheduled shortly after discharge from the hospital. Ruffalo called the program the first of its kind in Western New York.

As part of the pledge, a care coordinator will meet with patients while they are in the hospital to explain the importance of seeing a primary care doctor in a timely fashion following a hospital stay. The coordinator will then set up appointments and held to arrange transportation to the victims and address any other issues that may make it difficult for the patient to keep the appointment.

Patients who visit NFMMC's emergency room will also be guaranteed a primary care appointment within seven days.

"The program will close any gaps in care, improve the patient experience and help patients recover and stay well after a hospital stay or an emergency room visit," Ruffalo said.

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