SMH striving to increase use of Transitional Care Unit

SHERIDAN — In the last year, Sheridan Memorial Hospital has been striving to provide greater continuity of care to its patients who need a step of care between surgery and returning home.

Chief Information Officer Nyle Morgan updated the hospital board of trustees Wednesday on efforts in the last year to more fully utilize the Transitional Care Unit.

Since its inception, the TCU, which is located at the end of a patient wing, has been used for orthopaedic patients who receive a joint replacement or other surgery.

It typically saw approximately 300 patient days per year.

Last year, physicians expressed an interest in using it for a wider variety of patients, Morgan said. The hospital put together a team to facilitate greater usage of the TCU and is on track to have 1,800 patient days this year, which is approximately six patients per day. Morgan said the hospital hopes to see that number increase to 10 patients per day.

“Transitional Care is just that. It’s a unit that’s used for patients that aren’t ready to go home yet. Those patients can span a wide variety of illnesses,” Morgan said. “It can be for medically complex patients, orthopaedic patients, anyone who needs that step down from the hospital and when they get home.”

The TCU provides the same kind of care as a skilled nursing facility or nursing home does for rehabilitation patients.

“The nice thing about it from a patient perspective is that a patient is able to stay in the hospital under a different stay or different visit and receive therapy or other care that they might normally have to discharge from the hospital, go somewhere else or go home and run the risk of a fall and end up back in the hospital,” Morgan said.

Transitional care also enables the hospital to receive better reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, which penalize hospitals if patients are re-admitted within 30 days after a procedure.

“The idea behind it is you come to the hospital to get better, and we want to keep you better, not see you back at the hospital again in days,” Morgan said. “This plays a vital role in that continuum. You have the hospital, you have the physician office, you have a transitional care unit and then we also have home health here where we have nursing staff that goes and does home care, too.”

Sheridan Memorial Hospital CEO Mike McCafferty said greater utilization of the TCU along with reductions in expenses for supplies has led to an overall decrease in expenses of $600,000 in the last year.

In other business, McCafferty noted in his administration report that the planned expansion of the Intensive Care Unit will cost about five times more than originally anticipated.

McCafferty said plans recently drafted for the ICU expansion indicated it would cost approximately $5.2 million to increase capacity from six to 11 rooms. It was originally believed the expansion would cost approximately $1.3 million.

“We have a plan, and that plan has exceeded our financial projections,” McCafferty said. “There’s no doubt the ICU is our major priority, but we need to go into it with our eyes wide open.”

McCafferty suggested taking more time to determine exactly what needs to be accomplished with an ICU expansion in order to insure funds are used as best as they can be.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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