BANGOR, Maine — St. Joseph Healthcare is shifting rehabilitation of cardiac patients away from its Broadway hospital under a new approach designed to personalize care.
Patients recovering from heart attacks, heart surgery and other cardiac problems typically return to the hospital after discharge to get nutrition counseling, exercise with a specialist’s supervision and use other group services to get back on their feet. Now, those patients have the option to enroll in a new program geared to better meet their individual needs outside the hospital, according to Lois Macias, vice president for integrated care and physician practices for St. Joseph Healthcare.
For example, a case manager could visit a patient’s home to oversee a fitness workout or accompany the patient to the grocery store for a tutorial about nutritious foods, she said. As the patient recovers, staff will be available by phone or email for follow-up questions.
The makeup and duration of the program will be tailored to each patient’s needs, Macias said.
“Because it’s customized to that level, it’s successful,” she said.
The hospital has been piloting the new model, known as cardiac care management, and found that it leads to fewer hospital stays and emergency room visits, Macias said. The new approach, funded by a federal grant designed to improve the quality, safety and cost of health care, has had similar results nationally, she said. The model also involves patients’ primary care doctors and cardiologists.
The hospital currently has 42 patients in the cardiac rehab program.
“It’s completely voluntary to participate,” she said.
St. Joseph plans to hire two new case managers to support the model, Macias said. A urology practice will move into the first-floor space now occupied by the cardiac rehab unit, she said.
Patients who opt out of the new program will be phased out of the traditional cardiac rehab program and directed to care at other facilities.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an error. Patients who opt out of the new program will be phased out of the traditional cardiac rehab program and directed to care at other facilities.