Julie McCracken joined CVN AmeriCorps trough BonSecours Volunteer Ministry in September of 2012. Julie was assigned a brand new position on Bon Secours Baltimore Hospital. Her service was intended to help more of the hospital’s recently discharged patients become connected to a primary care physician. Keep reading to find out what happened...
My first few days tackling the follow up appointment system at Bon Secours Hospital were just a little hectic. When I started, follow up appointments were not consistently made, and of the appointments made, it was lucky if more than 10% were kept. If you’re unfamiliar with the importance of a hospital follow up, it’s a key step in keeping an eye on the health of discharged patients. In the community of West Baltimore, it’s also a huge part of keeping discharged patients from returning to the hospital and getting readmitted for the same initial (and usually chronic) illness. Bon Secours was facing a rather circular problem: patients required so much help from social work that there wasn’t enough time to get them a check up with a primary care provider. Not having this kind of follow up led to the inevitable readmission of the same patients.
At first, I would swing between thinking I wouldn’t make any change and sometimes feeling that I could easily double or triple the numbers. Over the course of October, I had made nearly 15 appointments at the hospital’s free clinic before the first appointment was kept. But at that point, even one appointment kept felt like a huge achievement!
By the end of that first full month, I had also gained some understanding of the barriers that kept an attendance rate of 10%. Instead of relying on the patients in need to call the hospital’s free transportation, I began setting it up myself. I also made sure to clarify that the appointment would be free and that they would be seen regardless of insurance. By December, I had recorded 20% attendance. In January, it shot up to 50%! Over the next five months, attendance averaged out to about 30%. The numbers from before I arrived had tripled! Looking back on this year, and seeing the number of people that put themselves into regular primary care instead of regular hospital admissions, I am excited and hopeful about future changes in healthcare.
|Bon Secours CVN AmeriCorps Members gather for a healthy snack.|