ECMC Opens Special Unit Designed to Reduce Patient Stays

March 27, 2013 Updated Mar 27, 2013 at 12:12 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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ECMC Opens Special Unit Designed to Reduce Patient Stays

March 27, 2013 Updated Mar 27, 2013 at 12:12 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW Release) – Erie County Medical Center today opened the region’s first Transitional Care Unit, which is designed to reduce the number of days Medicare patients remain in the hospital, while still maintaining care levels.

A Transitional Care Unit – a less-costly and reimbursable service – is set up to reduce the number of days spent in the hospital’s medical/surgical care areas by Medicare patients whose hospital stays exceed the necessary time periods covered by appropriate reimbursement rates.

Patients who will receive care in the TCU, which at ECMC is described by the state as a “demonstration project,” are medically stable and have clear prognoses, but are still quite ill. The hospital estimates about 400 patients will use the 19-bed TCU in 12 months. Another advantage of the unit is that specific rehabilitation can begin when a patient arrives in the 6th floor facility.

Also eligible for the unit are patients with complex conditions and/or those requiring costly care; or, patients who will be discharged to home within a few days.

“The main purpose of the unit is better care for our patients,” said Jody L. Lomeo, ECMC’s CEO. “The TCU is a unique care model that continues to make ECMC an innovator in Western New York.”

The New York State Department of Health approved the unit in September 2011, pending submission of final construction plans.

“The fact that the Department of Health approved this project validates the quality of our proposal and that establishing a Transitional Care Unit ‘demonstration project’ sets a more appropriate standard for care of this patient population across the state,” explained Richard Cleland, ECMC’s chief operating officer.

The closest similar units are in Binghamton, Champlain and on Long Island.

On an average day at ECMC, 24 medical-surgical beds are occupied by some patients for whom Medicare eligibility is exhausted. The medical center should discharge these patients more expeditiously, typically to Medicare Skilled Nursing Facility beds, for which Medicare would pay for extended convalescence.

However, a sufficient number of Medicare SNF beds are not available in Western New York. Patients in ECMC’s TCU will not be accepted from outside the hospital.

The TCU will meet some of the need for additional beds, providing a unit that will administer the appropriate level of care that is also Medicare-reimbursable. The TCU will appropriately be used to provide care for the most complex and costly patient conditions, while freeing ECMC’s medical-surgical beds for patients requiring necessary medical-surgical care.