Sussex program aims at reducing hospital readmissions for COPD patients

The state of Delaware, Sussex County and its EMS paramedic program, and Beebe Healthcare are aiming to launch a pilot program in which paramedics will make house calls so that hospital re-admissions can be reduced and enhance quality of life among COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) patients.

It is a 12-month pilot program, which is free and voluntary to COPD patients meeting the criteria, and at no cost to Sussex County taxpayers. It will begin in September 2020 and provide weekly home visits from paramedics trained about the disease.

The plan is to enroll and interact with upward of approximately 50 patients suffering from COPD.

Robbie Murray, Sussex County EMS deputy director of administration said these patients are frequently readmitted either in the emergency room or into the hospital within 30 days. He said that paramedics could be put in their houses, doing some things with them that could reduce those re-admissions and those costly re-admissions.

Kim Blanch, community services manager in Population Health at Beebe Healthcare said that patients with COPD will often find themselves using the emergency department or having hospital stay, based on the exacerbation of their illness. They might need help with medication use, follow-up of appointments, affordability of their medication and home safety concerns. This approach is about reaching patients where they are and being able to visit a patient in his home setting.

It can be weekly, up to 90 days, depending on the needs of the patients. They need to meet certain criteria, as far as ED visits or in-patient stay is concerned.

Blanch said that the program is looking at people who need help. If someone is coming once and we don’t see them again for a year or more they are managing the condition fairly well. He said we are aiming at supporting people who need more help, more equipment education.