Newport News, VA - Two Riverside facilities dedicated to caring for older adults have been recognized for accomplishments related to care and safety.

The Gardens at Warwick Forest in Newport News and Riverside Rehabilitation Center at The Orchard in Warsaw both achieved significant success in keeping residents from having to return to a hospital.

"Readmissions rates are a key indicator for Riverside on multiple levels," said Don Lundin, Riverside administrator for The Gardens at Warwick Forest. "Our success with this metric across Riverside is indicative of the focus that we have at a system level to ensure we are taking care of those that trust us with their health."

The award was announced this week by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL). Both AHCA and NCAL promote quality care for the elderly at all levels, from assisted living to the more intensive services that are needed after someone is discharged from a hospital.

The Orchard was also recognized for reducing the off-label use of antipsychotics -another goal of the AHCA/NCAL Quality Initiative Recognition Program.

Reducing readmissions is a focus because studies show as many as one in four hospitalized Medicare patients will be readmitted within 30 days. H ospitalizations can be disrupting to elderly people. Risks include complications and infections, as well as reduced functioning after discharge.

"From a quality perspective, it is significantly better for our patients to not have to go back and forth to the hospital unnecessarily," said Lundin. "Our clinical team has worked extremely hard to reduce our hospital readmission rates."

Lundin said the combination of enhanced systems at a facility level and the support of being part of an integrated health system like Riverside contribute to the success. "We have enhanced our protocols to ensure we have the necessary systems to care for patients as they are discharged from the hospital. We also have the necessary assessment protocols to prevent patients from being sent back to the hospital unless it is absolutely necessary."

Lundin credits Riverside's system-wide structure for Care Management, the hospital-based teams that coordinate services to make sure every patient gets treated in the best setting. A major focus is care transitions, those times when a patient moves from one level of care to another. Sharing information appropriately is crucial to keeping each person safe and making sure they get what they need.

Steps to further reduce readmissions include piloting a risk assessment tool at two Riverside hospitals. The system is also enhancing the discharge call process, which helps connect people to resources to head off problems that could cause them to return to the hospital.

Riverside is also improving medication reconciliation -the process for making sure doctors take all of the drugs a person has been taking into account before ordering anything new. This is done on admission and also when each patient is discharged. Riverside is also providing pharmacist education for high-risk patients.

Riverside has more services for older adults than any health system in Virginia and most health systems across the country -with 10 facilities offering everything from independent living to dementia care to the intensive rehabilitation required after a serious illness. Riverside also has five acute-care hospitals. These facilities are supported a broad range of community-based services operated by the system or through community partnerships. Older adults benefit from the enhanced communication and coordination of care that is possible through an integrated system.

Based on the AHCA/NCAL awards, both The Gardens and The Orchard will be recognized at the group's 2015 Quality Symposium in Austin, Texas.

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Published: November 5, 2014