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Day by day Hampshire Gazette – CDH, Highland Valley Elder Companies launch Hospital to Residence program

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.

NORTHAMPTON— Cooley Dickinson Hospital and Highland Valley Elder Services will expand the state’s Hospital to Home Partnership Program thanks to a nearly $200,000 grant announced by the governor’s office last month. The program will involve providing specialized expertise to Cooley Dickinson Hospital that supports discharges directly to a patient’s home, rather than to a long-term care facility.

“This is a new program to expedite assessments that have to be done by Highland Valley Elder Services to approve and arrange home services,” said Susan Pierce, senior manager of Care Continuum at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in an email. “Previously, the assessments could not be done until the patient was home from the hospital, thus delaying the ability to discharge patients home and in some cases requiring patients to go to a nursing facility until appropriate and safe support at home could be arranged.”

Using these funds, Highland Valley Elder Services will hire personnel to work on site with Cooley Dickinson’s Care Continuum department, connecting patients and families to needed resources and services and ensuring that supports are available in their home settings upon discharge. 

“This grant will allow Highland Valley to have a hospital liaison at Cooley Dickinson,” said Valerie D’Aquisto, associate director of programs and services at Highland Valley Elder Services. “[The liaison will] support hospital staff right there at the hospital.”

Highland Valley Elder Services is a private, nonprofit corporation that serves 24 communities in Hampshire and Hampden counties by providing services to empower older adults. 

The Hospital to Home program will not only allow patients to return home instead of completing lengthy stints in nursing facilities, but is expected to have other benefits as well, including faster discharges. 

“Our hope is that increasing numbers of our community members will be able to discharge directly home,” Pierce said. “This will make discharges quicker as services will be able to be set up while the patient is in the hospital thus increasing the available acute beds for Emergency Department and surgical patients as well as patients needing to transfer to Cooley Dickinson.”

Additionally, D’Aquisto said the program has potential to reduce hospital re-admission, because discharged patients will be “going to a home setting rather than a nursing facility setting, where they often decline simply because they are not in a home setting.”

This grant money is part of a $1.1 million award package announced in June, and funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, for acute care hospitals and Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) such as Highland Valley Elder Services, across the state. In Massachusetts, there are 24 regional ASAPs, providing programs and services to support the aging population in their communities. Such support includes assistance with home care, food security, finances, safety, housing, transportation, and more. 

The Hospital to Home Partnership is designed to strengthen partnerships between hospitals and ASAPs to better serve communities in Massachusetts.

“More patients should be able to recover and receive care from within the comfort of their homes and communities” said Gov. Maura Healey in a statement. “Through these partnerships, patients will have the support they need to return to their community and continue receiving care, improving health outcomes and alleviating pressure on hospital resources and staff.”

Alexa Lewis can be reached at alewis@gazettenet.com. 

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