Health Systems

Texas Health’s Senior Meal Programs are Reducing Emergency Care Usage

A Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas pilot program is delivering food to seniors via Meals on Wheels and using the interaction to determine if future medical care is needed. The program, called Meals that Heal, is reducing visits to the emergency room by senior patients who have been recently discharged.

The meals are delivered through the Visiting Nurse Association and Meals on Wheels. Deliverers ask patients a series of questions when they visit the patient’s home. They typically ask open-ended questions regarding a patient’s medication schedule and feelings of health since their discharge. Are they feeling better? Taking their medication, or have questions about them? What’s their follow-up plan with their physician. If there are problems, the deliverer contacts the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) social worker, who contacts Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas nurse practitioners, Stephanie Lindsey-Taylor and Rincy Thomas.

The 85 patients involved in the program have had no readmissions in the 30 days following hospitalization, and there have been fewer emergency department visits between 30 and 60 days. “This program really speaks to the Texas Health Resources Mission and Vision by not only providing these patients with regular healthy meals but establishing a true collaboration with our caregivers,” said Julie Balluck, interim chief nursing officer at Texas Health Dallas via release.

“Ultimately we want to be able to keep that relationship we started while they’re in the hospital. When we follow up with them we want to make sure that they understand that we still care about and still care about their wellbeing,” says Thomas. “We have prevented many hospitalizations, We deferred them to their primary care physician and talked with them about what they needed to do. We’ve created a protocol for different levels of situations.”

“Making sure seniors have nutritious meals after discharge addresses a barrier that can result in post-discharge complications and the follow up provided by the Visiting Nurse Association is a great way to ensure seniors have the support they need once home,” Catherine Oliveros, vice president of Community Health Improvement said via release. “These efforts are necessary when we consider all the factors that play a role in health and well-being.”



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