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The Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) has generously awarded York Hospital a planning grant in the amount of $29,785 to facilitate a one-year assessment of the hospital’s current framework for providing high-quality care to the older adult population in Southern Maine. The grant will allow the hospital to examine gaps and opportunities in four areas: Systemization of Screening Tools; Stigma Reduction; Clinical and Community Educational Needs; and Supportive Services for Patients, Families and Caregivers. The project will address ageism in terms of attitudes among medical providers and the broader community as well as assessment of internal policies and practices that might disproportionately affect older adults.

As background, in 2018 York Hospital commissioned Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to help evaluate opportunities and gaps to determine what was needed to become a regional leader in the care of older adults. In 2019, York Hospital launched the Center for Older Adults and now offers outpatient consultation with a board-certified geriatrician or geriatric nurse practitioner (NP) and a House Calls program staffed by two NPs to help mitigate symptoms from high-risk diagnoses, reduce Emergency Department and hospital readmissions, and provide care in the comfort of home. These services provide more comprehensive consultations than previously possible at regular primary care visits and were designed to lower costs, improve quality, and make health care more accessible to older patients. As a result of the pandemic, demand for York Hospital’s House Calls has nearly tripled – from 370 visits to homebound patients in 2019 to 1,037 home visits in 2020.

York Hospital patients and their family members are routinely asked to share feedback. Some of their requests include providing opportunities for patients to access safe physical and/or social activities while their family members or caregivers participate in an educational or social activity at the same time: art therapy, storytelling, sleep/incontinence skills training, memoir-writing, tai chi, photography, book clubs and more. This planning grant will allow York Hospital to work with our local partner organizations to pilot supportive programs to benefit our older adult community.

Katie Dodge, PT, leader of Older Adult Services at York Hospital and Project Director for the MeHAF grant added, “We are excited to pilot innovative programs and expand our efforts to provide the most vital resources and compassionate care for our older adult community. We’ll examine both how our medical providers deliver care to older patients, as well as how these patients receive, and perceive, their treatment. Our goal is to help our staff and entire community become more knowledgeable and age-friendly.”

York Hospital President & CEO, Dr. Patrick Taylor, expressed his gratitude to MeHAF for helping the hospital lead the way in geriatric care in Southern Maine. “It’s no secret that Maine residents are, on average, the oldest in the country and the state’s aging continues to outpace others. Maine claims the oldest median age of any state and also has the highest share of the population aged 65 and older per the latest U.S. Census estimate,” said Taylor. “As residents across the state of Maine get older, they will inevitably need more health care. While York Hospital is always focused on providing the highest quality medical care, this MeHAF grant allows us to provide resources to patients and their families that are educational, social, and supportive. As the famous African proverb says, ‘It takes a village’ – and at York Hospital we want to help our staff and entire community better understand how to provide for and interact positively with older adults in safe and healthy environments. We are so grateful to MeHAF and our network of community partner organizations for being part of our village and for helping us do this important work together,” Taylor added.

About the York Hospital Center for Older Adults: York Hospital Center for Older Adult Care offers programs and services to better serve our community members who are 65 years of age or older. We understand circumstances can limit accessibility for some older adults. In response, we now offer outpatient consultation at our Center for Older Adults and personal House Calls with our dedicated Nurse Practitioner. These services provide a more comprehensive consultation than would be possible at a regular primary care visit with the patient’s convenience in mind. For more information, visit: http://0k.movablemeasures.com/services/older-adult-care/

About MeHAFThe Maine Health Access Foundation’s mission is to promote access to quality health care, especially for thnose who are uninsured and underserved, and improve the health of everyone in Maine. MeHAF works with nonprofit partners and key leaders in the public and private sectors to advance initiatives and policies that particularly help those who face barriers accessing health care services and achieving optimal health. Each year the foundation provides approximately $5 million in grant and program funding to support activities aligned with its mission. For more information, visit: http://www.mehaf.org