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Cambria Co. hospital unveils new care resource center

By: Marc Stempka

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center has unveiled a new resource center aimed at improving the transition from in-hospital care to out-patient care.

The Primary Care Resource Center (PCRC) was opened Oct. 14 and was designed to educate patients on maintaining healthy lifestyle practices following their hospital discharge, officials said. The center is part of the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative Project (PRHI).

Officials said the center was designed to work with patients who are targeted as having high-risk readmission rates for ailments related to what they were previously treated. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure and acute myocardial infarctions (AMI) are people within the group.

Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative chief medical officer and the principal investigator for the CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation PCRC project Dr. Keith Kanel said the resource center will work to ensure patients will continue to receive proper medical care and other services they need in order to keep them from returning to the hospital.

Any patient being discharged with target diseases will get this higher level of care so they can stay out of the hospital and thrive in their homes, Dr. Kanel said.

Conemaugh Hospital was one of six community hospitals recruited by the PRHI Project, officials said.

Dr. Kanel said most patients are discharged without understanding their illnesses or treatment plans. He said some patients hospital-based and primary care physicians may not communicate with each other regarding appropriate post-hospital care.

"There are so many places where problems that can be prevented are missed, leading to emergency room visits and unplanned readmissions, Dr. Kanel said. These issues are not unique to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center [but] they are well-documented in numerous studies.

The PCRC is staffed by three nurse care managers, a pharmacist, administrative support and personnel from the hospital, including diabetes educators, nutritionists, social services, behavioral health services, respiratory therapists and other staffers, Conemaugh said.

Patients admitted to Conemaugh for COPD, heart failure or AMI will be monitored by PCRC staff throughout their stay and receive education about their condition, medication review, self-management skills and a home action plan constructed with their physicians' input, Conemaugh said.

 
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