Excerpts from the DailyHerald.com:

Sherman Hospital is the first hospital in the state approved to offer mobile integrated health care — or services outside the hospital environment — via on-staff paramedics. In addition, five hospitals in Rockford, Peoria, and Champaign have teamed with local fire departments and ambulance services to provide the mobile service.

The Sherman program consists of weekly home visits for 30 days for certain patients who’ve been discharged from the hospital. The goal is to avoid patients getting readmitted.¬†Eligible are patients who survived heart attacks or who suffer from pneumonia, diabetes, asthma, heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The program launched in late December. Patients can participate in the free program regardless of their insurance status, said Advocate Sherman Hospital paramedic Ken Snow, who runs the program along with a part-time paramedic.

“We go over the discharge plan, we go over the medications. I do an assessment and I do some education with them so they understand their condition and help them manage their condition at home,” he said. “After, I report back to their primary care physicians.”

Mobile integrated health care is new in Illinois but has gained popularity in Minnesota, Michigan, Arizona, and California.

A special committee spent about two years developing a mobile integrated health plan for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said committee co-chairman Valerie Phillips. The department’s emergency medical services advisory council approved the pilot plan last year.

National data shows the mobile care helps prevent hospital readmissions, especially in areas where people have limited access to health care, or where traditional home health services are limited.

“One of our early concerns was, ‘Is this project looking to replace traditional home health care?’ And the answer is, ‘Absolutely not,'” Phillips said. “This is looking, in Illinois, to fill the gap for persons who aren’t either eligible for home health services, or refused home health services for various reasons, or perhaps don’t have the funding for it. It’s a niche service.”

Twenty-two patients have participated in the Sherman program so far. Of those, 10 have graduated, meaning they stayed out of the hospital for 30 days after discharge; two patients were readmitted, while the others dropped out for various reasons.¬†That’s a 9 percent 30-day readmission rate for the program, compared to 12 percent among such at-risk patients in 2015, according to data provided by Sherman.

“Early results indicate that patients who commit to this free program are highly likely to avoid unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations,” said Tina Link, director of community outreach for the hospital. “The more patients we are able to visit, the more we learn about potential barriers that may impact a patient’s ability to successfully complete the program, and we’re working to remove those as we go.”

thanks Dan