Though I live in Massachusetts today, my childhood and early college years were spent in Maryland. It has a special place in my heart and many of my family still live there. The other reason Maryland is special to me is we collaborate with a great group of health systems and providers there who have made post-acute care partnerships a cornerstone of their strategic plans. Quarterly these health system leaders as well as other key stakeholders meet for a shared learning experience to improve care coordination, tackle emerging population health initiatives, and overcome barriers. They share best practices to enhance the partnerships with their SNF and Home Health providers as they all work collaboratively with a common goal on quality improvement.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of chatting with two collaborative members:
- Cindy Kelleher, President & CEO, University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute
- Joe DeMattos, CEO, Health Facilities Association of Maryland (HFAM)
I wanted to find out what systems or relationships they had in place when COVID-19 hit that they felt enabled them to meet the challenge more readily.
Executive Chat with UMMS, HFAM and PointRight
Power of Post-Acute Partnerships in the Midst of a Pandemic
3:12 – Sharon (PointRight): How did you know who to call in your skilled nursing partners when COVID-19 emerged?
Cindy (UMMS): We had already been working on our post-acute care collaborative so we’d been in touch with some of our skilled nursing facilities. So we definitely knew our skilled nursing partners and we just started to call them with the support of Joe. We started to talk to them about what did they need, what did they see coming and mutually, how can we help you and what do you need from us?
4:55 – Sharon (PointRight): What happened when you got Cindy’s call?
Joe (HFAM): I was positively overwhelmed and knew that I had a safety net early in the process and that was incredibly important as we started fighting this pandemic together. One of the things that I want to say is that early on, it was because of Cindy’s work with the post-acute partners directly involved with UMMS that we even had any sense of integrated public reporting around COVID today.
8:25 – Sharon (PointRight): What were you tackling on your daily calls with Joe?
Cindy (UMMS): We developed a very trusting relationship, so Joe and I, and the Maryland Hospital Association, our thinking evolved very quickly, which was critical. I think that’s what made us successful, having that trust, having Joe’s connections through HFAM, having my connections through the hospital, getting consensus quickly. There was an incredible level of trust built, and then trying to gather all that data and see where this is going.
12:05 – Sharon (PointRight): What were some of the learnings from visiting SNFs?
Cindy (UMMS): It was important to support them and speak out at a time when there was a lot of negativity around what they were doing, and I think that we really need to educate a lot of people that it had nothing to do with bad this or bad that, it had a lot to do with the level of COVID in the community.
18:20 – Sharon (PointRight): What do you see as points of collaboration and needs in future?
Cindy (UMMS): This became a very expensive process for all of us. If you start to add up what skilled nursing homes and even hospitals had to do around paying for the testing, paying for the PPE, paying for staffing, and you look at their cost structure, I’m still concerned as to how skilled nursing can provide a very sick population with all these things. And I think it’s shown us in general some of the weaknesses. We survived this because we had partnerships and relationships and people were willing to get on board.
19:45 – Joe (HFAM): I think the tracking mechanisms, the ED transfer form, the mining data for knowledge – all of that will serve us well. The dialogs we had related to surge management, we had critical conversations behind the scenes on that, that will serve us well in the future. Also our partnerships with the Maryland Hospital Association, and also specifically Cindy and I and our partnerships with county health offices and state epidemiology branches, our work on that front will serve us well.