AMITE — The CEO of North Oaks Hospital told the Tangipahoa Parish Council on Monday that it has a new program that will reduce the number of patients readmitted within 30 days of being discharged, which will save the hospital money.
North Oaks Hospital operates under the authority of Hospital Service District No. 1, created by the parish 60 years ago to construct and manage a hospital.
North Oaks CEO Michelle Sutton told the council that the hospital has partnered with Southeastern Louisiana University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences to create a program to assist patients after they have been discharged.
Sutton said North Oaks had to readmit 19 percent of the seriously ill patients within 30 days of their departure from the hospital in 2014. The national average for such admissions is 12 percent, she said. A pilot program with 15 patients in 2014 had a readmission rate of only 11 percent, Sutton said.
The program used health coaches who work with student nursing interns from Southeastern to provide comprehensive care to selected discharged patients. Sutton said the student interns continued to monitor the health of the patient while working with doctors, nutritionists, social service workers and therapists.
“We have been able to provide a wide range of services to those who especially need our help, and we think that this will result in the hospital being able to save money while providing an extra measure of care to those who need it most, the more seriously ill and the elderly,” Sutton said.
Hospital Service District No. 1 member Ron Macaluso led the hospital’s report to the Parish Council.
Acknowledging there had been “a recent lack of communication between the hospital and the council,” Macaluso said a process is now in place to maintain an exchange between the hospital board and the Parish Council. Special committees from both the hospital board and the council have been meeting on a regular basis for the past year.
In summer 2014, a rift grew between the council and the hospital when North Oaks announced plans to open a limited retail drug store on the hospital campus. Pharmacy owners, especially those located near the hospital, protested to the council that the hospital’s pharmacy would harm them financially. The hospital subsequently dropped its plans.
Councilman Carlo Bruno asked the council’s hospital committee to continue to be vigilant with hospital operations.
“This is the first time that we have had the service district board and hospital administrators come to our meetings except when they wanted our permission to borrow money,” Bruno said. “I’m happy things are better, but we need to maintain our communications with the hospital.”