by Lori Harasta
There is an award-winning program in the area from which about 1,800 patients have already benefitted. Have you heard?
Spotlighted for excellence last month by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, the “COPD Access to Community Health” (CATCH) Program is a free-of-charge program designed to improve health outcomes for people with respiratory disease. It is funded by a grant awarded to the Ventura County Health Care Agency (VCHCA).
“CATCH is changing the way we identify, treat, and manage COPD in our communities,” states Grants Manager Susan White Wood. The results are most impressive: According to VCHCA’s data, there has been a 36% reduction in COPD-related emergency room visits over baseline.
Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association (LMVNA) has been providing visiting nurses for the program since October 2014. At last count, 1,805 participants have had pulmonary functions tests and patient education, including medication review and management, nutrition and resource information. Medicare and Medi-Cal patients are visited in private or group homes, county “One-Stop” locations, shelters, parks—any place as long as it is safe for the clinician.
According to CATCH Project Director Sandra Tovar, “CATCH is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of very ill patients. It is not uncommon for CATCH patients to be homeless and/or mentally ill with COPD. I have not seen a more culturally competent, compassionate staff than the CATCH Team. I’m so honored to work with such a group.”
Seventy percent of LMVNA RN David Cates’ patients are homeless. Many of them are veterans. A veteran himself, he knows how to listen and interact with them. He is pleased that the CATCH program received recognition.
“This is such an important program that really enhances quality of life for participants. Because we see these people outside of the clinical environment, we can go beyond just meeting their medical issues. This recognition by the Board of Supervisors will go a long way to help people find out about the program so they, too, can benefit. “
As part of the CATCH project, spirometry devices were delivered to primary care physicians to assess lung function in patients ages 40+ who smoke. Screenings jumped from 4% to 77% for patients in this category.
At the program’s baseline, just 37% of smokers received cessation counseling. Now, 65% are getting therapy. All of this is significantly decreasing hospital admission rates.
Teri Helton, RN, MSN, FCN is the Program Manager for LMVNA . She affirms, “It has been a pleasure and honor to work with VCHCA and see the positive results in our community. It is just one example of how collaborating can benefit more individuals than going it alone, whether as an individual or an organization.”