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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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10/8/2013 3:13:00 PM
VVMC to launch Community Care Network for neediest of patients

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

Do you have some extra time and want to provide a valuable community service. The Verde Valley Medical Center is launching a program to recruit Health Coach Volunteers to build a Community Care Network in partnership with the Verde Valley Caregivers.

Two recruitment meetings are set. One session will be held in Cottonwood at the Verde Valley Senior Center Oct. 22 from 4-5 p.m. A meeting is scheduled in Sedona, at the Sedona Community Center Oct 23 from 2 to 3 p.m.

Patients at Verde Valley Medical Center will be screened by a number of factors before they leave the hospital to determine the patients who need the most ongoing care after they have gone home.

Community Care Director Sue Ballard and Celeste Scalf, a nurse practitioner, say a series of factors will determine how to promote health and management of people "who might otherwise slip through the cracks."

Some volunteer candidates may already have some medical skills. Some retired nurses are already interested in the volunteer program. There may be student nurses or firefighters with EMT training but others will need training to take blood pressure, weight, pulse and other vitals through a training course offered by the program.

Sue Ballard say the patients that would be regularly seen under the program might be those with chronic diseases such as COPD, congestive heart failure, diabetes or other conditions. But, the program will also make sure basic conditions are met and that they are getting to appointments and have their needed medications and are taking them on time, making sure that they are in a safe environment at home. The Health Coach provides a bigger picture of how to meet their needs once they go home.

Many of these patients might be older and may not have family nearby or -- even -- have a primary physician. The Health Coach would help to find someone to manage their ongoing care.

The volunteer will assess the patient during visits to make sure they can get their groceries and toiletries that they are able to afford their medication, take their blood pressure, their weight and not getting fluid weight and do specific tests to determine their health status says Celeste. "And then, reporting back to me as the nurse practitioner or the nurse case manager so that we can intervene if there is a need."

"The other factors: 'do they have money to buy food? 'Is there food in the home? We are partnering with the Verde Valley Care givers and they are looking at the non-medical piece. But, our priority for our Health Coaches is looking at the medical piece."

"That is why volunteers are important, because Verde Valley Medical Center is offering the service to the community and can't charge for that service. It is just to promote population health and management of people who need it the most."

Another interesting option is a telemedicine option. "Its not for everyone," says Sue Ballard. "but some patients may not appreciate home visits."

A telemedicine pack is a pod that is connected to a wireless transmitter with a blood pressure cuff, a finger sensor for taking pulse and a scale for weight that will broadcast the information wirelessly back to the hospital. Flagstaff Medical Center already uses the device for distant Reservation patients.

Marketing Director Trista MacVittie says with the Community Care Network, Verde Valley Medical Center is "way ahead of the curve with this program." The Hospital Board heard a presentation on the concept at a retreat and became interested and then some of the staff saw it in practice in Pennsylvania hospital and thought it would be a good fit for the Verde Valley. MacVittie says she was recently at a strategic conference where they discussed as 'something to think about.' In the Verde Valley, the Network is taking shape.

For more information call Director Sue Ballard at 639-6560.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Article comment by: May Barns

Part of the reason VVMC has so much profit is due to how they treat their employees. I know many 40hr employees who have been cut back to 32 hrs. Most employees are required to take low census days 1-2 days per week! And there have been little to no raises in the last 3 years. Getting a decent raise is reserved for those that spend a lot of personal time on extra projects that involve saving the hospital money. And those awards that VVMC receives? Some require money to be paid to receive them!

Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Article comment by: $10 million operating profit in 2011

You say you want facts Little Missy?

Over the past decade, VVMCs net assets have exploded, this despite the deepest economic recession in decades.

Check their financial statements, which are posted online, and see for yourself.

The only thing nonprofit about the VVMC is their tax filing status. This entity, whatever you want to call it, generates enormous profits, and it comes out of the backs of the locals.

They took in an operating profit of about $10 million in fiscal 2011 alone.

Giving back to the community should mean more than sending your board on an all expense paid trip to Hawaii every year.

Any which way you want to cut it, they make a lot of money and can afford to give a lot more back to the people of this community.

Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Article comment by: community member

VVMC is a not-for-profit facility. They provide care to MANY people who are never able to pay. The dedicated staff often goes above and beyond to serve the community. If a person wants to be more informed on the cost of medical care, look into how little AHCCCS and Medicare pay to medical providers. It is expensive to run a 24 hour, 7 day a week, 365 day a year facility. These health care providers are ready to face any emergency at anytime regardless of payment. Please, get your facts straight first before you make such statements.

Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Article comment by: VVMC needs to give back more

Considering how profitable the VVMC is, and how much their assets have grown over the past decade, this outfit really needs to give back more to the community.

And by giving back, I mean do more than just pay their top employees some $800+K/year.

Wouldn't hurt them to pay a little money to these people they're asking to work free as volunteers.

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