Is a hospital for habilitation cost-effective?

Dr. Gary E. Eddey

By Gary E. Eddey, MD

Matheny’s data consistently demonstrate that care provided here reduces the risk for much more costly acute care hospitalizations. Our daily bed rate, in fact, is lower than that of acute care hospitals.

Morbidity and mortality data for 2011 and 2012 show that Matheny has consistently reduced transfers of our patients to acute care hospitals over the preceding years. Factors contributing to this reduction include: 24/7 on-site coverage; an advanced respiratory therapy department; a fully staffed onsite pharmacy, which has increased the availability of urgently needed medications; and  interconnected informal relationships with several acute care hospitals.

Our transition nursing program, developed with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has enabled us to reduce the chances of readmission for those patients who have been transferred to acute care hospitals. Rehospitalizations within 30 days of the original admission have been reduced to 7.4% from 25%. Also, patients with routine planned preventative surgery admissions are quickly readmitted back to Matheny.

All individuals have the right to have their potential maximized, regardless of whether they have mild, moderate or severe developmental disabilities. Matheny has always focused on improving and prolonging the quality of life of its patients. In addition to our medical expertise, we believe that the therapies and activities we provide are absolutely crucial in maximizing our patients’ functioning and their ability to actively engage in and enjoy life experiences.

(Fourth in a series of articles by Gary E. Eddey, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Matheny, on the habilitative healthcare model).

Expanded role for respiratory therapy

Teamwork between respiratory therapists and nurses is extremely important, says Dan Cary RRT, far left, director of Matheny’s respiratory therapy department.

Respiratory therapy is a medical specialty that provides a wide range of therapeutic and diagnostic services to patients with cardio-pulmonary issues. Heart and lung disorders may not be part of Matheny patients’ primary diagnoses, but the importance of monitoring and treating these conditions among the Matheny population cannot be underestimated.

Matheny’s newly expanded respiratory therapy department, directed by Dan Cary RRT, consists of four full-time therapists and three who work on a per diem basis. While the department is not yet in operation  24/7, Cary says, “We are moving toward 24/7, and a respiratory therapist is always on call.” The RRTs and CRTs, adds Cary, “play a critical role in the lives of patients with developmental disabilities and respiratory illness. They are responsible for patient assessments, care planning, staff education and providing various treatment modalities.”

Gary E. Eddey, MD, vice president and chief medical officer, believes Matheny’s new respiratory therapy department, “advances us, from a clinical perspective. The role of respiratory therapists here is critically important, given the wide range of complex medical conditions experienced by our patients. The expansion of respiratory therapy positions us for the future, should we be asked to care for patients with even more complicated issues.”

The respiratory therapists at Matheny now have experience, Cary says, “ranging from 25-week-old neonates in a NICU to 100-year-old ventilator-dependent patients in a long-term assisted facility. We do everything we can to make sure every one of Matheny’s patients gets to experience every facet of life they possibly can.”