Every year the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA), like many other state, metropolitan and regional hospital associations across the country, releases an annual report that describes the many ways in which its hospitals help build healthier communities. The MHA recently released its 2014 community benefit report, “Minnesota hospitals: Strengthening healthy communities.” It’s available by clicking on: http://tinyurl.com/purukrt. This Community Connections story is reprinted with MHA’s permission, and offers an example of how hospitals and hospital associations are telling their stories to the public.

 Patients discharged from the Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park may find a firefighter at their door after they leave the hospital.

 In an effort to prevent the need for 9-1-1 emergency calls and unnecessary hospital readmissions, Methodist Hospital developed a pilot program that provides a visit from a firefighter to a patient’s home within 24 hours after they have left the hospital.

 The partnership started with the St. Louis Park Fire Department, and now includes fire departments in Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Hopkins and Eden Prairie. Methodist Hospital identified that the first 72 hours after discharge are a critical time for potential readmissions. The purpose of the visit is to ensure that patients: 

  • Know what medications to take and if they have any medication pill holders;
  • have a follow-up visit scheduled with their doctor;
  • know what symptoms to be aware of and who to call if they experience them;
  • have enough food in the house for the next few days; and
  • have homes with working smoke detectors and that the house does not have any safety hazards.

 “Our fire department responds to 10 to 11 calls a day for emergency medical services and we recognize that some of them were from patients who had recently been in the hospital,” said St. Louis Park Fire Chief Steve Koering.

 “This is a win-win for patients, taxpayers and the health care system,” said Linda Bauermeister, Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital’s director of nursing and population health. “Patients have what they need to care for themselves and [know] what to do if something changes and it is a better use of resources for fire departments and hospitals.”

 As part of the pilot, there is no cost to patients or health plans for the recommended visits. Since it began, fire department crews have visited more than 140 patients. Of these, firefighters helped 39 patients get follow-up care for medical or medication concerns, social or community services or food from a food shelf.      

Firefighters check up on patients after they leave the hospital.