Sat, April 04

VVMC to launch Community Care Network for neediest of patients

Do you have some extra time and want to provide a valuable community service. The Verde Valley Medical Center is launching a program to recruit Health Coach Volunteers to build a Community Care Network in partnership with the Verde Valley Caregivers.

Two recruitment meetings are set. One session will be held in Cottonwood at the Verde Valley Senior Center Oct. 22 from 4-5 p.m. A meeting is scheduled in Sedona, at the Sedona Community Center Oct 23 from 2 to 3 p.m.

Patients at Verde Valley Medical Center will be screened by a number of factors before they leave the hospital to determine the patients who need the most ongoing care after they have gone home.

Community Care Director Sue Ballard and Celeste Scalf, a nurse practitioner, say a series of factors will determine how to promote health and management of people "who might otherwise slip through the cracks."

Some volunteer candidates may already have some medical skills. Some retired nurses are already interested in the volunteer program. There may be student nurses or firefighters with EMT training but others will need training to take blood pressure, weight, pulse and other vitals through a training course offered by the program.

Sue Ballard say the patients that would be regularly seen under the program might be those with chronic diseases such as COPD, congestive heart failure, diabetes or other conditions. But, the program will also make sure basic conditions are met and that they are getting to appointments and have their needed medications and are taking them on time, making sure that they are in a safe environment at home. The Health Coach provides a bigger picture of how to meet their needs once they go home.

Many of these patients might be older and may not have family nearby or -- even -- have a primary physician. The Health Coach would help to find someone to manage their ongoing care.

The volunteer will assess the patient during visits to make sure they can get their groceries and toiletries that they are able to afford their medication, take their blood pressure, their weight and not getting fluid weight and do specific tests to determine their health status says Celeste. "And then, reporting back to me as the nurse practitioner or the nurse case manager so that we can intervene if there is a need."

"The other factors: 'do they have money to buy food? 'Is there food in the home? We are partnering with the Verde Valley Care givers and they are looking at the non-medical piece. But, our priority for our Health Coaches is looking at the medical piece."

"That is why volunteers are important, because Verde Valley Medical Center is offering the service to the community and can't charge for that service. It is just to promote population health and management of people who need it the most."

Another interesting option is a telemedicine option. "Its not for everyone," says Sue Ballard. "but some patients may not appreciate home visits."

A telemedicine pack is a pod that is connected to a wireless transmitter with a blood pressure cuff, a finger sensor for taking pulse and a scale for weight that will broadcast the information wirelessly back to the hospital. Flagstaff Medical Center already uses the device for distant Reservation patients.

Marketing Director Trista MacVittie says with the Community Care Network, Verde Valley Medical Center is "way ahead of the curve with this program." The Hospital Board heard a presentation on the concept at a retreat and became interested and then some of the staff saw it in practice in Pennsylvania hospital and thought it would be a good fit for the Verde Valley. MacVittie says she was recently at a strategic conference where they discussed as 'something to think about.' In the Verde Valley, the Network is taking shape.

For more information call Director Sue Ballard at 639-6560.

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