Free Florida Hospital Program for Financially Vulnerable Reduces Emergency Visits
December 3, 2017: A Community Care care program offered by Florida Hospital is seeking to reduce avoidable Emergency Department visits by offering free preventive care to the chronically ill who do not have insurance.
The site H&HN (Hospital & Health Networks) reported that Florida Hospital had noticed a pattern of uninsured patients with chronic diseases using the Emergency Department to manage their diseases.
The Community Care program allows such patients to sign up for a free post-discharge service in which various medical professionals visit patients’ homes to provide preventative care.
According to Meghan Budvarson, director of ambulatory care management for the hospitals involved, the program is reaping tangible results for patients enrolled for a full year.
Community Care has lowered avoidable ED visits by 25%, it has reduced inpatient stays by 57% and has cut unnecessary observation by 17 percent.
Budvarson said that in the 12 months preceding enrollment in the program, a mere four patients had 40 hospital encounters, either using the Emergency Department or by being admitted.
The program was first launched in 2014 in Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Volusia County, while another was added in the same county in New Smyrna Beach later in the year. Hospitals in Flagler county and Orlando followed to bring the current tally of facilities with the program up to seven.
The Community Care partners with United Way, food banks and medical homes for the uninsured. These organizations provide food and housing which the hospitals can not.
“This program is not a black-and-white approach,” said Budvarson. “We are dealing with complex diseases, coupled with complex life stressors that can exacerbate the disease process. The approach needs to be from a hierarchical perspective, and basic needs (such as running water, electricity and stable housing) need to be addressed before expecting patients to be able to manage their complex diseases on their own.”
Florida Hospital is a not-for-profit healthcare organization based in Orlando, Florida. It has 25 hospital campuses in Central Florida. It is owned and operated by Adventist Health System.