LUMBERTON — Imagine a child in the future being told, “Once upon a time, the hospital was a place you’d go when you were sick.”
Though hospitals will always have a role in caring for people who are ill or injured, much of their focus will shift to promoting health and keeping people well. In fact, it’s happening already.
That’s due to changes in the health care system brought about by the Affordable Care Act.
Joann Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Southeastern Health, said Southeastern Health, which manages Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, is ready for those changes.
“SeHealth is built on a firm foundation,” Anderson said. “We are stable as an organization, and we have a definitive plan for how we’re going to meet the challenges of the future.”
Here are five ways Southeastern Health is fulfilling its vision for a healthier future:
— Emphasizing prevention. If you can stop a medical problem before it starts, you can keep people healthy and out of the hospital. Exercise and good nutrition are key. Southeastern Health is teaching area children the importance of eating well through Project HEALTH.
Southeastern Health has partnered with local high schools to provide them with athletic trainers to support student athletes. Southeastern Health is also helping schools develop walking trails and sponsoring events featuring physical activity, like the Rumba on the Lumber.
— Creating medical homes. A primary care doctor gives you a place to turn for health care other than the expensive emergency department. When that doctor is part of a medical home, as Southeastern Health’s physicians are, care is tailored to a patient’s needs.
That means the doctor not only prescribes antibiotics when you have a bacterial infection, but he or she will also let you know when it’s time for a colonoscopy.
— Lending a hand to discharged patients. These days, insurers may limit hospital stays. As a result, many patients leave with their condition stabilized but not fully healed. They’ll need to care for themselves at home. For some, that’s difficult.
To assist them, Southeastern Health has created transition teams. Made up of medical professionals, they meet with patients needing some extra attention while they’re still in the hospital and then maintain a relationship for at least 30 days. They help patients stay on top of their care by identifying — and correcting — potential problems before they turn into bigger issues.
— Bringing health care providers together. Doctors’ offices, long-term care facilities, home health agencies — like Southeastern Health — all have a role in caring for the community. It’s clear there’s better care for everyone when all work together. So Southeastern Health is working to share information, improve communication and find the best ways to do things.
A good example of that is the software package recently purchased for patient education. It’s offered community wide, including to providers unaffiliated with Southeastern Health. It helps ensure that when different providers communicate with patients, everyone is using the same language.
— Innovating. Imagine coming home from the hospital after being treated for heart failure and not being sure how to take your medicines or what symptoms should lead you to call your doctor. Nationwide, it happens a lot. Heart failure patients discharged from hospitals too often need to be readmitted soon after their first hospital stay.
Thanks to the Paramedic Partners Program, discharged heart failure patients in Lumberton don’t have to wonder what to do. This free, voluntary program is the collaborative effort of Southeastern Health and Lumberton Rescue and Emergency Medical Services. It brings paramedics to the homes of heart failure patients within 24 hours of their hospital discharge. The paramedics make sure patients understand their condition, have the right medications and are living in a safe environment.