The debate over health care continues to rage on Capitol Hill, but in the meantime there are people without insurance visiting emergency rooms across the country for non-emergency medical care. Pam Phillips, vice president of mission for Bon Secours Hampton Roads, has figured out a system that seems to be working to help those without access to care.
Phillips is vice president of mission at Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center in Norfolk and at Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center in Portsmouth. The health system sent Phillips and two of her colleagues, Diana Jarrett and Eileen Malo, through a leadership program where they were charged with creating a community program.
After seeing the number of people entering the emergency room for basic medical care who would be more appropriately treated by a primary care doctor, they knew where to focus their program development.
Phillips created a program called Life Coaches and brought two nurses into the emergency room at DePaul to be just that to patients with no medical safety net.
"We made a partnership with the STOP organization and Park Place Medical Center," Phillips said. "Essentially when a patient comes to the ER for primary care because they don't have insurance or access to a physician, they are treated and seen by the life coach who gets them an appointment at Park Place."
The goal is to give these patients a "medical home," Park Place Medical Center, a free medical clinic in Norfolk. The life coaches then check on the patients to see how they're doing and offer some follow-up care.
"It's sort of a case management concept in the home," Phillips said.
The concept sounded promising, but the proof was in the numbers. The coaches have referred 1,000 people to the medical center and only 12 have returned to the ER for the same reason. After such success with the program at DePaul, the health system is looking to start a program at Maryview.
"My role is to assure that we live the mission and not just talk about it," Phillips said. nibib
- Mary Worrell