When you have a child in the hospital, even a short stay can feel like an eternity. Add the cost, time off work, health insurance hassles (if your child has health insurance at all), and other stresses to your worry, and you have a major problem that approximately 6 million families deal with annually in the US.
One Cincinnati, Ohio hospital might have found a path to a real solution, though.
Partnering with community resources can actually shorten hospital stays for children.
A new study conducted at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital illustrates the importance of utilizing community resources and arming parents in underserved areas with assistance outside of the hospital.
Doctors and staff at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital concentrated on Avondale and Price Hill, two areas with high instances of long hospital stays. They chose to focus on a specific subset of these two communities, children with asthma—the most common reason for children’s hospitalization among their population. Doctors coordinated efforts with community organizations, pharmacy delivery services, and even housing advocates to shorten stays.
By working with agencies outside their health care system they broadened their scope of care, making sure families were supported in all areas of caring for their asthmatic children.
Along with utilizing home care services to shorten stays, and making sure medications were delivered on a regular basis to reduce readmissions, doctors worked to improve housing conditions of this sensitive population. They identified “hot spot” areas where a greater percentage of asthmatic children were getting sick. Those families were connected with legal aide to fight for healthier living conditions. This ultimately reduced kids’ exposure to asthma triggers and lowered admissions overall for childhood asthma-related stays.
This study gives other institutions a blueprint for beginning to overcome some of the challenges facing community members.
Creators of the study acknowledge the effects of social and economic inequity on patient outcomes. “These challenges affect one’s ability to access preventive services, adhere to care recommendations, and trust that the health care system has one’s interests at heart.”
The results of the study speak for themselves. The duration of hospital stays decreased by 18 percent while hospitalizations decreased by 20 percent over a three-year period. This research study supports a holistic approach to patient care—much more than a printout of instructions as you’re discharged following a lengthy stay.
Caring for kids is hard enough, add in special medical needs or chronic illness and any parent can feel overwhelmed. A program like the one Cincinnati Children’s Hospital created could do wonders for families struggling with all kinds of health care needs. No matter how good the medical treatment a hospital can provide, there’s no better outcome than not needing the hospital in the first place.
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