Illini Community Hospital receives IMPACT Award for readmission reduction


Lexy Damon, emergency department manager and team chairperson at Illini Community Hospital, accepted ICAHN’s IMPACT Award for her team’s readmission reduction program. | Photo courtesy of Illini Community Hospital

PITTSFIELD, Ill. — Illini Community Hospital in Pittsfield recently was awarded the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network’s IMPACT Award for readmission reduction during ceremonies held Nov. 10 at the I-Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign.

Participants vying for the award were encouraged to submit innovations implemented at their respective hospitals which initiated a new approach to improve patient relationships, implemented a new process flow or life-safety improvement, found a creative way to motivate and inspire staff or foster a successful community project.

Working on reducing readmissions and focusing on high emergency department utilization is not new to Illini Community Hospital. However, a recent social determinants of health benchmarking survey helped ICH to see a large portion of the population was being missed potentially.

After evaluating diagnosis and reasons for return during a 12-month period for all emergency department 72-hour returns, the importance of having a primary care provider, access to care, communication, and related services (such as pharmacy) became clear to maintain patient services at the appropriate care level. Analysis found ICH’s patients with 72-hour ED returns to be in need of medications, without access to the needed primary or specialty provider (including dentists), concerned about changes in their condition and unclear about their patient education.

To date, ICH reduced its 72-hour emergency department returns by approximately 5 percent. Based on the social determinant needs, placement, and education concerns, a full-time care manager was relocated to the emergency department, and readmission interviews are conducted with all patients returning to the emergency department within 72 hours. Through case reviews of emergency department patients returning, Illini Community Hospital has a much better understanding of true patient needs.

While the diagnosis category yielding the most returns may change from month to month, the need to care-coordinate and better manage care of these patients is the significant trend that remains the same. Developing a better understanding of why patients return has helped ICH understand the need to change its educational process and how they follow up after discharge to provide better outcomes.

In a press release, Jennifer Mowen, administrative director of performance Improvement, said, “We want to ensure that all patients feel valued while receiving care, and no one becomes ‘labeled.’ We want patients to leave understanding their plan of care, knowing that we check on them within 48 hours and that they matter.”

Team members were:

  • Lexy Damon, emergency department manager and team chairperson
  • Susan Chenoweth, administrative director of nursing
  • Alyssa Heavner, acute care manager
  • McKenzie Tomhave, care manager
  • Paige Taylor, care manager
  • Anita Wright, quality management
  • Kerensta Graham, quality management
  • Rhonda Smith, care coordination and
  • Missy Damon, rural health clinic manager

ICAHN is a network of 57 critical access and small, rural Illinois hospitals dedicated to strengthening the operations of its member hospitals through collaboration. The organization is composed of Illinois hospitals who have earned critical access hospital designation by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. ICAHN is recognized nationally for its work with rural healthcare and administers several state, federal, and private healthcare programs. The ICAHN office is in Princeton, Ill.

CUTLINE: Lexy Damon, Emergency Department Manager and Team Chairperson, accepted ICAHN’s IMPACT Award for her team’s Readmission Reduction program at Illini Community Hospital.

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