|Dan Barnes, D.O.|
Beth Walker, R.N.
TROY – Fifty-five percent of the patients who are treated in the Transition Care Clinic (TCC) at FirstHealth Montgomery Memorial Hospital are uninsured. Another 27.6 percent are Medicare or Medicaid patients.
Since the TCC at Montgomery Memorial opened last year, hospital readmission rates and return visits to the emergency department have decreased, this despite the fact that many TCC patients suffer from hypertension and/or diabetes (both chronic diseases that can be very hard to control).
Hospital President Beth Walker believes the TCC’s services had a lot to do with Montgomery Memorial’s recent recognition for Excellence in Outcomes by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) and iVantage. Only 16 rural North Carolina hospitals got the recognition, which is based on patient safety and readmission and mortality rates.
According to Walker, the hospital’s outcomes have always been good, but they have gotten even better with the TCC, which serves as a bridge from hospital to home to help prevent readmission after a hospital discharge or return visits to the emergency department.
“Our TCC is a critical piece of this,” Walker says.
Physician assistant Darrin Cutrell, PA-C, and family nurse practitioner Crystal Coen, FNP, see patients at Montgomery Memorial’s TCC, located in the Medical Arts Building beside the hospital, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Appointments are made with physician referral – either a physician in the hospital (an emergency department doctor or a hospitalist) or by the patient’s primary care provider.
From the time of its opening in March 2014 through September of this year, the clinic had recorded 659 patient visits involving 222 patients.
On Nov. 19, leaders from the rural health community from across the country will be “Celebrating the Power of Rural” during National Rural Health Day. NOSORH created the event to showcase rural America; increase awareness of rural health-related issues; and promote the efforts of NOSORH, State Offices of Rural Health and others in addressing those issues.
“Like every rural hospital, Montgomery Memorial faces a variety of difficult issues – accessibility, too few health care providers, an aging population dealing with various chronic conditions, and a large number of under- or uninsured patients,” says Dan Barnes, D.O., president of the FirstHealth Physician Group.
“Declining reimbursement rates and disproportionate funding levels make it even more difficult for these hospitals to serve their residents. Despite the challenges, Montgomery Memorial is able to provide the kind of outstanding health care that is recognized by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health. I think that says a lot about the skills of the hospital’s health care team and its commitment to the Montgomery County community.”
According to the NOSORH, about 62 million people, or nearly one in five Americans, live in rural communities throughout the United States.