PERU – A partnership between Four County Counseling Center and Dukes Memorial Hospital in Peru is aimed to reduce the number of return emergency room visits and continue medical integration efforts in the community.
Lisa Willis-Gidley, a Four County employee currently contracted as a patient care navigator at the Dukes Memorial Hospital emergency room, works with patients who might be considered frequent emergency room visitors at Dukes.
The patient care navigator position is working as a pilot program funded through a grant from the department of mental health.
Patients are also recommended to Willis-Gidley if they don’t have a primary care physician, need mental health services or if they are repeat clients in the emergency room.
The over-utilization of an emergency room and the need to help manage cases paved the way for the patient care navigator at the hospital, said Tim Gearhart, a vice president at Four County.
Patients are also referred to the navigator for various reasons, including running out of critical medication. Some of the patients might have a common cold, and other issues can range from anxiety to heart issues or even diabetes.
Willis-Gidley assists patients with finding primary care physicians and works with the primary care doctors to help patients get what they need, said Donna Henry, a vice president at Four County.
“I’ve seen a lot of people who just don’t know what else to do,” Willis-Gidley said. “Maybe they’ve just moved to the area or are having financial difficulties and don’t know what they need to do so they go to the emergency room. I jump in and give them different resources.”
The first meeting is followed by a face-to-face visit within 48 hours. The next few weeks include phone calls and visits to ensure patient’s needs are being met. Once Willis-Gidley meets with a patient, she follows up through an outpatient service where a specific number of phone calls and face-to-face visits are required.