Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania recognizes York County initiatives aimed at addressing housing insecurity among patients
WellSpan Health has been recognized, along with its community partners, with the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) 2019 “Living the Vision” Award for innovative efforts to address housing insecurity for its most vulnerable patients in York County.
The award is the highest honor given by HAP every year to one hospital or health system in Pennsylvania that demonstrates accomplishments in all dimensions of the “Triple Aim” of health care – improving population health and the patient experience, while reducing health care costs.
WellSpan’s winning initiative focused on its efforts to help patients who no longer need care in a hospital but do not have a safe and appropriate place to go and therefore cannot leave. The health system worked with community partners in York County to develop three programs that provide temporary housing for these patients, while also ensuring they get the ongoing care they need.
“Many people in our community lack stable housing. When a severe illness strikes, they may not have a home to return to,” said Charles H. Chodroff, M.D., senior vice president and chief clinical officer, WellSpan Health. “We're proud of our partnership with so many community agencies that helps us get those we serve back to a stable home environment.”
The three projects included in this initiative are:
Omega Bed Lease Program. Started through an agreement with York County to coordinate care between WellSpan York Hospital and Pleasant Acres Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, and since expanded, WellSpan leases skilled nursing beds to provide a short-term transition setting for patients who no longer need hospital-based care but face obstacles to timely and appropriate discharge. WellSpan also works with patients on paperwork necessary to secure longer-term care – a significant barrier for many patients.
Arches to Wellness. This recuperative care program launched in 2017 and provides patients a temporary place to stay in a local personal care home, while they receive care for short-term medical care needs. Patients in this program receive clinical services such as primary care, home health, pharmacy and case management, as well as help to secure a source of income.
ALPHA Community Initiative. Led by the Healthy York County Coalition and supported by WellSpan, this community partnership works to help sustain and expand the ability of personal care homes to serve low-income Pennsylvanians. The initiative, a public-private partnership, includes a cross-section of housing, health and human services stakeholders – all with the shared goal of identifying and implementing sustainable solutions for personal care homes. These efforts include educating elected officials regarding the negative impacts of static reimbursement rates for personal care homes.
The Omega Bed and Arches to Wellness programs together have saved an estimated $1.9 million in health care costs. But it’s the individual patients who have benefited most, said Ann Kunkel, senior director of Case Management for WellSpan Health, who leads these initiatives for the health system.
“These are the people who are invisible in our community, and we are putting faces to the invisible,” Kunkel said. “When we are able to treat each individual with respect and dignity, recognize their needs and meet them where they are on their journey, our neighbors are not only able to recover better from their conditions. They are able to begin their path to a healthier life.”
The award-winning efforts were data-driven to target a critical community health need. But, Kunkel noted, many of the programs that were developed to address this problem required expertise that went beyond those traditionally found in the health care setting.
“We needed people who were experts on these issues involved with us, and the community truly rose to this need,” Kunkel said. “It has been so gratifying to see the changes for the better that have occurred thanks to our successful partnerships.”
For additional information about HAP and the Achievement Awards, visit www.haponline.org.
About WellSpan Health
WellSpan Health is an integrated health system that serves the communities of central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. The organization is comprised of approximately 1,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a regional behavioral health organization, a home care organization, eight respected hospitals, more than 19,000 employees, and more than 170 patient care locations. WellSpan is a charitable, mission-driven organization, committed to exceptional care for all, lifelong wellness and healthy communities.