6/27/2017 Bedford Gazette shared a story about the cooperative effort to improve the physical and mental health of seniors in Bedford County. Rod Burket, HNA Home Health Psych Case Manager has played a significant role in the initiative and is quoted about the effectiveness of the program.
UPMC hospital noted for meeting local needs
By the Gazette staff
UPMC Bedford Memorial Hospital has been recognized by a national association for its “best practices,” as part of the hospital network’s larger effort to meet the health needs of communities it serves.
The Association of American Medical Colleges featured UPMC in its 2017 Health Equity Research Snapshot for its exemplary community-partnered Community Health Needs Assessment processes that have successfully impacted the health of local residents.
According to UPMC, each of its affiliated hospitals partners with the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and engages with the community to identify and address health needs related to geography, age demographics and other contributing factors.
UPMC Bedford’s assessment identified access to health care as an important concern. In a video highlighting the services offered by UPMC in the communities it serves, it noted that UPMC Bedford’s call to better serve the rural area resulted in founding of a hospital teleconsult center which offers access to 18 specialists via video.
Addressing diabetes also was identified as a high priority because 11 percent of the population suffers from the chronic disease. UPMC’s teleconsult center gives patients easier access to an endocrinologist. The hospital also added a diabetes educator to three primary care practices and implemented a home visit program to battle the disease.
“As UPMC continues to extend its outstanding health care services to many diverse communities in and beyond western Pennsylvania, UPMC is addressing the needs of communities and making them stronger,” said Leslie C. Davis, UPMC senior vice president, and executive vice president and chief operating officer, UPMC Health Services Division.
The medical colleges association video features the Teleconsult Center, where patients also can access telepsychiatry. UPMC received a federal grant administered jointly through UPMC Community Nursing, along with UPMC Bedford Memorial and Home Nursing Agency, which is part of UPMC. UPMC uses advances in technology to provide access to specialists close to home. A Pittsburgh-based psychiatrist “visits” the patient through real-time audiovisual communication via a secure computer.
Through the grant and local efforts, 1,223 older Bedford County adults so far have received coordinated physical and behavioral health services, UPMC said.
UPMC Bedford received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration federal office for Rural Health Policy in 2015 as part of a comprehensive initiative to improve the health outcomes of Bedford County residents 65 and older with depressive symptoms.
The mental health nurses from the two home health agencies involved in the project provide care to the patients in their homes and at the telemedicine center, thus promoting the coordination of care. Referrals of older adults to the program from other community partners rose by 96 percent in the second year of the outreach program, UPMC said.
One of those nurses, Rodney Burket, R.N., said the access to specialty care is “life-changing” for many patients who otherwise couldn’t travel the distance to Pittsburgh. One of his patients is a local elderly woman.
The patient’s visits have been seamlessly orchestrated among all health care providers, according to UPMC. The remote consultations she received from physicians at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC in Pittsburgh were “transformational,” said Burket, psychiatric case manager for Home Nursing Agency.
The care she received from Burket and a psychiatrist via telemedicine helped her regain her independence, UPMC said. Today, she leads games and bingo for other residents in the assisted living facility where she lives, gets her hair and nails done and dresses “to the nines” daily.
“She is in her late 80s and physical trips to Pittsburgh would have been burdensome to her and her daughter with whom she lived at the start of treatment,” Burket said. “It is gratifying to meet the needs of area residents, like this woman, through at-home nursing visits and with specialists through these technological innovations.”
The medical colleges association video also features UPMC Bedford Memorial’s Tammy Payne, R.N., a certified diabetic educator, as she provides a home visit to check on the patient’s blood sugar readings and diet compliance.
UPMC Children’s Hospital also was recognized by the association.