WASHINGTON (NEWS10) – The American Hospital Association (AHA) announced Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) in Bennington as the 2020 recipient of the Rural Hospital Leadership Award. The award recognizes small or rural hospital leaders who “guide their hospital and community through transformational change on the road to health care reform.”
Like many rural health systems across the country, AHA says SVMC serves a patient population that is experiencing increased rates of chronic illness associated with advanced aging. One of SVMC’s strategies was to use its nursing workforce as part of a transitional care model oriented at keeping older adults out of the hospital, reducing readmissions and delivering the right care in the right setting.
Additionally, the SVMC team, led by Chief Nursing Officer Pamela Duchene, plans to deepen its partnership with OneCare Vermont, an all-payer accountable care organization aimed at lowering overall health care costs while aligning more effectively with high-quality outcomes.
Under the expanded model, transitional care nurses partner with primary care providers to help patients navigate the system, identifying and closing gaps in care. Particular focus is given to linking with local home care agencies, skilled nursing facilities and other community care partners.
Nurses spend time in multiple care settings, including medical practices and in patient homes, and communicate through a variety of approaches to help make this commitment to continuity of care a reality, including through telemedicine. The approach has helped to address many of the social determinants of health that contribute to chronic illness in rural Vermont. This includes mismanagement of medications, unsafe and unsanitary conditions at home and lack of financial resources.
The award will be presented at the AHA’s 34th Rural Health Care Leadership Conference, which will be held virtually Feb. 17-18.