In-Home Care Saves Millions for Health Network


There has been a tremendous push by the federal government to reduce hospital readmission rates in recent years. A significant motivator for reducing these rates is reducing Medicaid expenses that are often paid to hospitals, including for readmissions.

A healthcare network in Pennsylvania has taken direct strides in improving its home care program to help save millions of dollars through the years. Allegheny Health Network (AHN), based out of Pittsburgh, launched its home care program last year. As a result, the health network was able to improve the number and quality of services it provides to its clients, improving connectivity after discharge from the hospital, ultimately saving approximately $5 million during that time.

The majority of those savings have come from hospital readmissions that were no longer required.


5 Flu Myths Debunked

From the AARP Blog:

We can think of an excuse to get out of anything we don’t want to do – like getting a flu shot. Maybe you’re one of those folks who rarely get sick so you scoff at the flu messages each year. Maybe you’re plain scared. But the truth of the matter is, if you’re over 65, you’re playing with fire if you don’t get the flu vaccine. This age group has the highest rates of influenza-related deaths and hospitalizations, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Because the immune system weakens with age, seniors are more susceptible to the flu,” says Papatya Tankut, vice president of pharmacy affairs at CVS/pharmacy.

Hear that? So while your anxiety is real and understandable, there is absolutely no good reason for you to delay. And in case you’re still trying to talk your way out of it as I type, let us debunk the most common falsehoods about the flu vaccine right now so you can be on your way to a pharmacy near you.

“The flu shot gives you the flu.”

This is a classic one. In reality, the viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so people cannot get the flu from a flu shot, Tankut says. You may experience minor side effects including soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given, a low grade fever or ache. “These side effects begin soon after the shot and usually last one to two days. Almost all people who receive influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it.”

“It’s too late to get the flu shot.”

No way is it too late. In fact, now is the most critical time to get it. Although flu season has come early this year, according to the CDC, it’s not too late to get vaccinated. Flu season typically peaks in January or February. It takes about two weeks after being vaccinated to develop full protection, so you should make getting the vaccine a priority.

“If you get the flu, you can’t get it again during that flu season.”

If true, that would be wonderful. You’d be off the hook. However, different strains of the flu circulate each season; so don’t assume that if you have already had the flu, you will not get it again, Tankut warns. If you have already had the flu this season, you should still make it a priority to receive the flu shot.

“Antibiotics will help fight against the flu.”

We see your thinking, but it’s not the case. Antibiotics work well against bacteria, but are not effective for a viral infection like the flu.

“The flu is only spread by coughing and sneezing.”

While the flu is spread by coughing, sneezing, and even talking, the flu virus can survive for a few hours or even a day on surfaces and in enclosed spaces. The most common way the flu virus is spread is when hands that have been in contact with contaminated surfaces go near your face. That is why you should wash your hands frequently with soap and water or have an alcohol-based cleanser handy.

There you have it. If you can get past your fear of the flu shot, know this: You have two options for vaccines! The regular seasonal flu shot or the high-dose flu vaccine for adults over the age of 65. This vaccine contains three flu strains, four times the amount of antigen (the part of the vaccine that causes the body to produce antibody) and is intended to create a stronger immune response.

OK, enough reading. Time to get that shot!

Group Urges Creation of Independent Long-Term Care Ombudsman Office

From California Watch and California Healthline:

A group of California elder-care ombudsmen have found an ally in the Legislature in their quest to give the state’s top ombudsman more autonomy by creating an independent nonprofit. The local groups, which investigate abuse allegations involving seniors in care facilities, grew disillusioned with the statewide leader when he stood by as program funding was eliminated in 2008.

Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, supports them in a move to create an independent nonprofit “giving the new ombudsman’s office the complete autonomy needed to speak out effectively on behalf of resident concerns.”

Now the current statewide ombudsman, Joseph Rodrigues, plans to fight to keep the position where it is, saying that his proximity to state leaders and the governor’s office is good for seniors. “Frankly, I feel like we already have an independent state office,” Rodrigues said in an interview. “I don’t feel any restrictions on my ability to act and speak.” Last summer, lawmakers held a hearing about the issue of whether the state needs to separate the state ombudsman’s office from the Health and Human Services Agency. During the hearing, Rodrigues announced that he secured newfound autonomy to speak out on bills and advocate more strenuously for the office and for seniors.

To Sylvia Taylor-Stein, team leader of the Committee for an Independent State Ombudsman Office, the announcement came too late. The committee initially formed, she said, when local ombudsmen banded together to fight for continued funding. “We were working to restore some funding and we had no one at the state office supporting us,” Taylor-Stein said. “It was a nightmare.” In addition some local elder-care ombudsmen have also been dispirited to see their state leader stand in silence as bills affecting seniors have taken shape. Of particular note, Taylor-Stein said, was a 2004 nursing home funding law that gave an additional $880 million to nursing homes over five years with few demands for accountability.

“That bill demanded a voice at the state level, and there was none,” she said.

A California Watch investigation found that about 230 homes that saw increased funding also cut staffing or wages or lagged beneath a 2000 staffing standard. Typically, a political appointee who reports to a state agency does not take public stands on legislation and does not fight the chain of command over budget cuts. Taylor-Stein said the newfound autonomy granted to the statewide office could disappear as quickly as it was granted.

Wolk has introduced a bill (SB 345) to serve as a placeholder for legislation that would create the independent office. Wolk’s office said the bill would be modeled after similar independent ombudsman offices in Colorado and Washington state. “Federal law requires the state ombudsman to speak out on all issues that affect long-term care,” Wolk said in a statement. “It is important that we establish the proper organizational structure to allow the state ombudsman to fulfill their legal duties and avoid conflict of interest.”

Veteran Star Shines Light On Elder Abuse

Actor Mickey Rooney entertained America for decades both on television and stage. But his latest appearance could be his most important. The 90-year-old actor recently testified before Congress that he had been abused by a family member. In Tell Me More’s weekly parenting conversation, the moms take on the problem of elder abuse and how to deal with it. Weighing in on the discussion are geriatric care expert Marion Somers, Meryl Gordon, author of the book Mrs. Astor Regrets on New York socialite and elder abuse victim, Brooke Astor, and regular Moms contributor Leslie Morgan Steiner.

Click here to read the full article. There’s also an audio clip of the discussion.