Minnesota Hospital Association


January 23, 2018

Firefighter partnership program improves safety, reduces readmission rates for newly discharged patients

Each day, Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital discharges an average of 49 people who go home. Among the patients who are the most vulnerable or who need therapy at home, about 55 people a year come back to the hospital in the few days after they are discharged.    

In 2014, Methodist Hospital partnered with local fire departments in St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and Hopkins to help discharged patients make a safe transition from hospital to home. To improve the discharge planning process, the hospital invested staff time for communication and coordination with the fire departments, as well as resources for technology and reporting. Three years after the program launched, firefighters have visited more than 1,000 patients.   

Methodist Hospital Senior Director of Care Management Gena Graves recently met with several firefighters to discuss the program, including additional services and matching reimbursements provided by the Park Nicollet Foundation. This will provide additional funds for supplies like folders, pill boxes, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors and iPads. In total, the Park Nicollet Foundation has provided more than $71,000 in funding since 2014.   

“We aren’t just focused on the well-being of our patients while they’re in the hospital,” said Graves. “We want to improve health for our community. These partnerships are one of the ways we can make change.”   

The fire departments agree. Sometimes a small effort can keep someone from ending up in an ambulance. It also saves time, resources and stress.    

“The goal we had when we started this program together was to impact the lives of patients in a more positive way. I believe we’ve done that,” said Chief Steve Koering of the St. Louis Park Fire Department.   Some 20 percent of Medicare patients are readmitted to the hospital within a month of leaving. Through this program, firefighters are able to visit patients in their homes. They discuss their new medications, take their blood pressure and do a safety check around the house.   

Patient satisfaction for the program is rated at 95 percent satisfied or highly satisfied. The hospital is now working on launching new branding to better engage patients, as well as redesigning the data and impact measure tracking and analysis.    

“We know that we are making a difference based on what patients say,” Koering said. “They see the benefit. That’s enough for us.”