NIAGARA FALLS – Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center on Friday announced a new agreement with the state to manage the health care of Medicaid patients with chronic problems and prevent expensive trips to the emergency room.
“This is revolutionary. This is where health care is going,” said Sheila Kee, vice president and chief operating officer of Memorial.
Amarpreet Grewal Bath, a primary care doctor recently hired from Marine Corps Air Station Miram in San Diego, has taken over as the director of the new, free program, called “Niagara Health Home.”
It is the name for a system to manage patients as they navigate any stops in a network of 50 Niagara County health care providers: Eastern Niagara Health System hospitals in Lockport and Newfane, cardiologists, counselors and hospice.
“It’s like a house without walls. A big house without walls that stretches from one end of Niagara County to the other,” said Patrick Bradley, director of public relations for the Niagara Falls hospital.
Grewal Bath, an administrative director who is a case manager, and a technology specialist will work in new Health Home offices in a medical building across 10th Street from the hospital.
As the program grows, staffing will expand, Bradley said.
Memorial launched the program about three weeks ago. The state Health Department selected the hospital for the program last summer after a competitive application process.
“The idea is to set up a patient and client case management system that helps Medicaid patients with multiple chronic health issues, including behavioral health,” Bradley said. “They’re the kind of patients that sometimes fall though the cracks. They have a hard time navigating the medical system. The state will provide us with the names of the people who might be eligible.”
Health Home also will begin to get the word out to prospective patients who might like to enlist.
Case managers will help clients navigate the system from doctors’ appointments and mental health services to community resources, such as housing, heat, food and transportation.
Memorial will be paid a monthly fee for each patient that will vary according to the severity of the patient’s needs.
Kee said the goal is to enlist 300 patients this year and get up to 2,000 in the next two years.
“It’s trying to find a better way for a lot of people who are really sick,” she said.