Funds Will Expand Successful Heart Failure Program
NORTHAMPTON — Attorney General Martha Coakley awarded one of seven grants for preventive care and to reduce health care disparities to Cooley Dickinson Hospital to expand its award-winning congestive heart failure care management program.
Cooley Dickinson was one of 238 applicants for the $1.5 million in grants. They were made possible under the terms of settlements reached by Attorney General Coakley's Office as a result of investigations of marketing conduct of pharmaceutical manufacturers and a medical device manufacturer.
"These funds will allow us to extend to patients with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the support and coaching they need to manage their care," said CDH President and CEO Craig Melin. "Coaching like this from Cooley Dickinson staff and its community partners enabled us to reduce hospital readmissions for chronic heart failure patients to the lowest rate in the Commonwealth."
Tammy Cole-Poklewski, RN, MS, director of quality, patient safety and care management at Cooley Dickinson explained that the grant will allow the hospital to hire an additional medical social worker to support patients with the greatest needs and the least support.
The grant will help Cooley Dickinson focus on patients with a chronic illness who also have psychosocial issues, such as little family support, being uninsured or underinsured, or being homeless, Cole-Poklewski said. With the added support, the CDH Care Management Program expects to reduce hospitalizations and Emergency Department visits for approximately 100 patients per year.
The program is modeled on the Heart Failure Care Management program, which Cooley Dickinson has fully funded for 10 years. Chronic heart failure patients had the highest rate of readmission. Under this program, a full-time designated RN provides ongoing education and support after a patient's hospital stay. The services are currently not covered by any health insurance programs.
The Hampshire County Continuum of Care (HCCC) committee formed in 2008 with a consortium of 19 health care providers to expand on the efforts of the heart failure program. The community partners, including the VNA & Hospice of Cooley Dickinson, area skilled nursing facilities, and elder services, and the hospital will work together to continue to serve heart failure patients and meet the needs of the additional high-need patients through the grant-funded program.
Melin said, "The grant helps support our hospital's long history of funding services that keep people healthy, rather than just treating illnesses. We anticipate that in the future, the healthcare system will recognize that this is the right thing to do, by rewarding these programs rather than penalizing us for helping patients avoid expensive care. We appreciate the foresight of the Attorney General in choosing to seed programs that help people reduce healthcare cost by eliminating avoidable illness."