COPD Foundation, Holy Cross Health Open Program for At-home Care

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by Joana Carvalho |

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Holy Cross Health partnership

The nonprofit teaching hospital Holy Cross Health has partnered with the COPD Foundation to open a pilot program to help people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and related lung disorders in managing their health at their homes.

Funded by Herb Yardley, a member of the foundation’s board of directors, the program — the Respiratory Navigator and Peer Coach Partnership — was created to support people with lung disorders who, after being hospitalized due to a disease flare (exacerbation), are discharged to continue recovering at home.

“The overall purpose of this unique partnership is to provide the people impacted by COPD and related lung conditions with comprehensive supports, helping them maintain hope and improve their daily lives,” Kristen Willard, vice president of Public and Professional Education at the COPD Foundation, said in a press release.

Under the pilot program, patients in a post-acute phase will be received and evaluated at the Catherine Yardley Pulmonary Center of Excellence at Holy Cross, in South Florida. They then will be paired with registered respiratory therapists, who will serve as their “health navigators” to guide them in managing their treatment and care needs. The center was established in the memory of Yardley’s wife, who died from COPD.

The program leverages both partners’ strengths and tools. The COPD Foundation will lend its educational resources, along with its COPD360Coach platform to the program to help patients to more easily connect with their peer coaches, both patients and caregivers trained for this role.

Additionally, the foundation will also open its Harmonicas for Health program and its COPD360social community to those participating in the partnership program. Harmonicas for Health is an initiative that uses harmonicas and music to help patients learn respiratory techniques to better manage some of their symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, while the COPD360social is an online international community of patients and caregivers.

Holy Cross Health brings its expertise in patient management and care to the program. The nonprofit’s existing COPD Navigator program — which has a dedicated team of healthcare professionals who accompany and support COPD patients in their recovery— is reported to have helped in lowering hospital readmissions among these people by nearly 50%.

“We are honored to partner with the COPD Foundation,” said Helen Visco, a registered respiratory therapist at COPD Navigator at Holy Cross Health.

“We are confident that this partnership will enhance the patient care experience by combining our expertise with the extraordinary resources of the COPD Foundation. Our goal is to not only provide our patients with pulmonary care excellence but, in addition, to further promote wellness, self-care, and better quality of life,” Visco added.

During its initial phase, the program will focus on maintaining low hospital readmission rates by following the path set by Holy Cross’ COPD Navigator program, and in improving patient adherence to pulmonary rehabilitation and their sense of overall satisfaction.

A further goal is to help the healthcare professionals who are part of the Holy Cross Health team, by lessening their workload and allowing for more efficient work.