Readmission reduction strategy: Provide spiritual, emotional support

hospital campus

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is reducing readmissions at its facility through the FaithHealthNC program, a volunteer initiative aimed at helping patients get the emotional support they need after discharge.

Renee Rutherford, R.N., FaithHealth and readmissions coordinator at WRMC, told the Wilkes Journal-Patriot that the program is a vital element of the hospitals post-discharge outreach to patients. “Then there’s the part of educating people so they know they’re not alone and help is available,” Rutherford said. “That’s where our volunteers from local churches and community groups come into play.”

The volunteers are mostly from local faith organizations that partner with the program. They make house calls, assist with meals and other needs, and offer necessary spiritual and emotional support to help prevent patients from returning to the hospital, according to the FaithHealth website.

Most of the patients who take advantage of FaithHealth’s offerings are uninsured, middle-aged or older and do not have access to transportation.The program shuttles such patients to follow-up appointments, meetings with specialists or to get needed prescriptions. Rutherford told the Journal-Patriot that she is currently looking into ways to provide financial assistance to those in need.

All patients receive information about FaithHealth at discharge, according to the article, but the hospital also screens patients to target those who will most benefit from the program. Patients from other medical facilites in the region are also referred to the program, Rutherford told the newspaper. Early results are encouraging.WFBMC’s 30-day readmissions rate decreased by 30 percent in May, she told the newspaper. 

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