By Sharon Johnson
CEO, Interlude Restorative Suites, Fridley
Published in the Sun Focus
The next generation of transitional care is here, offering great promise for the millions of seniors and baby boomers who need short stay care after a joint replacement, other surgery or illness.
Traditionally, transitional care units (TCUs) are attached to nursing homes. Most of the patients are elderly and a return to full functionality may not be possible. TCU stays may run three weeks or longer. Longer stays mean higher healthcare costs, and a greater risk of infection. And once home, the chance of being rehospitalized is high due to a fall or complications.
There’s a new, better approach. Build a TCU attached to a hospital, with ready access to x-ray and lab testing. Offer great, nutritious food, a comfortable and peaceful room fully outfitted for the digital age, high quality rehabilitation therapy seven days a week, with specialized rehab equipment not available elsewhere locally. Other amenities include comfortable, fluffy cotton robes, a heated therapy pool, and a quality restaurant on each floor with chefs preparing favorite dishes just the way you like them. And, equally important, quiet rooms so guests enjoy restorative sleep with no rest-rattling intrusions by overhead pages or staff restocking towels and bedding (there are hidden passageways behind the rooms’ walls so staff have access into cupboards.)
An average stay of only nine days represents a big nod to the national goals of reducing healthcare costs, while improving patient outcomes and satisfaction. This rehabilitative healthcare revolution started in Fridley when Interlude Restorative Suites opened its doors earlier this year.
The Interlude model, a collaboration of Benedictine Health System, Allina, and Presbyterian Homes & Services, is focused on highly individualized care, provided as efficiently and as effectively as possible.
Patients (or guests as they’re called) come to Interlude sooner from the hospital. With seven-day-a-week physical and occupational therapy available, stay-duration has been reduced, And, looking ahead, insurance companies will pay for patient outcomes rather than for the number of days spent in the TCU. Shorter lengths-of-stay represent a tremendous cost savings of thousands of dollars per guest being realized. Because guests are well rested and well fed, they’re happier and more motivated to focus on getting better faster under the Interlude model.
Built into the Interlude model is a wellness component that pampers the patient while they heal. Studies show that people heal better when they enjoy quality care, good restorative sleep, and are well nourished. Guests are in a spa-like sanctuary, being refreshed and renewed as they heal. They enjoy a calming environment, a gentle touch, a quiet room.
We want to get people healed and home, because healthcare costs are staggering. Nationally, Medicare pays more than $140 million (2013 figure) a year for beneficiary hospitalizations.
But 20 percent of hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries are rehospitalized in the month following discharge. Why so many rehospitalizations? Falls, medical complications such as infections, medication errors or patient failure to follow doctor’s orders. The cost to Medicare, according to one study, is $26 billion annually, nearly 17 percent of total Medicare hospital expenditures.
A new type of transitional care stay – and one that is optimized for short stays and enhanced outcomes and patient satisfaction – is a solution that will catch on nationally. Especially so as demand for transitional care grows among baby boomers. It is estimated that four out of ten boomers will eventually require an orthopedic implant such as a knee or hip.
This new approach to transitional care is a key component of recovery back to a satisfying lifestyle.