DOVER-FOXCROFT - This fall, Mayo Regional Hospital was honored for its contributions to helping patients suffering from chronic heart failure, the most common hospital discharge diagnosis in patients over age 65. As part of the ME Cares coalition of 32 Maine hospitals undertaking care support initiatives for heart patients across the state, Mayo has succeeded in improving the outcomes for patients suffering from this serious disease — a significant accomplishment, as heart problems are a major health threat facing the community.
To recognize the hospital's commitment to this program and the dedicated efforts of its physicians and nurse care managers, whose individual expertise and personal interactions with patients drive the success of the program, ME Cares has presented Judy Gerrish, manager of Mayo's Heartwise program, with a certificate of recognition for their participation and work in providing care support services as part of ME Cares. ME Cares is the recipient of the "Best Collaboration in Disease Management" award presented by the Disease Management Association of America (DMAA).
ME Cares is a community-based care support program, in which specially trained nurses work with patients, usually by telephone, to provide information and support. The nurses use a software platform developed by Pfizer Health Solutions (PHS) to better support patients with heart disease and offer follow-up care via telephone.
At a celebration of the success of the statewide ME Cares program held in Augusta, representatives from the hospitals participating in the program — which serve more than 90 percent of the state's population — discussed ways to further strengthen the reach of the program. At the event, entitled "Maine: Leading the Way in Coordinated Care," the founder of the Disease Management Association of America, Al Lewis, saluted the accomplishments of hospitals such as Mayo.
"Hospitals and other provider groups around the country should take note — ME Cares is a model disease management program that has the potential to improve the quality of life and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations for the people of Maine," said Lewis.
The medical director of Medical Care Development, Dr. Richard Wexler, outlined the success of the ME Cares program, which his organization oversees. To date, nearly 1,000 patients have enrolled in ME Cares statewide, and physicians, nurse care managers and patients alike have indicated that they value the program.
Patients enrolled in ME Cares have seen significant improvements in their symptoms, an overall improvement in their health, and lower cholesterol values. Patients who participate in the ME Cares program tend to take better care of themselves and more closely follow their physician's advice about such issues as exercise, diet and use of medications. In fact, patients become better at taking their medicines reliably the longer they are enrolled in ME Cares — the opposite of the national trend, in which people take their medicines reliably at first, immediately after a hospitalization, but taper off over time.
Mayo plans to continue enrolling new patients in the ME Cares program. Some Maine hospitals participating in ME Cares will focus on enrolling patients into the Medicare Coordinated Care Demonstration Project, a national study conducted to examine the ability of care support to improve the quality of health and reduce re-hospitalizations. Hospitals and patients participating in this project have the opportunity to increase the national visibility of local programs and encourage other hospitals nationwide to model their programs after ME Cares.
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