Championing Employment for All Abilities

Oz Mondejar with Champions of Change honorees

Oz Mondejar grew up with a strong appreciation for the opportunities available in United States, instilled in him by a mother who immigrated here from Cuba. He also grew up with a limb difference. Together, those experiences have helped fuel his desire to create more opportunity for skilled individuals with disabilities. Today, as the Senior Vice President of Mission and Advocacy for Partners Continuing Care, Oz is fulfilling his vision and has become a nationally recognized leader in the field.

In fact, this past week, the White House honored Oz as a “Disability Employment Champion of Change” for his role in helping to create the Working Partners Program, a public-private partnership between Spaulding Rehabilitation Network and Partners HealthCare at Home and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.

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Tags: industry interactions

Partnering with Patients for the Future of Medical Research

Dr. Elizabeth Karlson with a Biobank participant

Dr. Elizabeth Karlson with a Biobank participant

At Partners, we’re committed to investing in cutting-edge research while also striving to improve efficiencies. The Partners HealthCare Biobank is one innovative program that does both. A joint project between Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals, the Partners Biobank stores patient blood samples alongside medical history, family history and data about lifestyle and environmental factors that are collected from participants.

“The most innovative aspect of this project is the ability to study biomarkers, genetic variants and environmental factors to predict longitudinal outcomes in a large, diverse population in a way that will lead to understanding how to use this data for personalized medicine,” says Dr. Elizabeth Karlson, co-investigator of the project at BWH.

While many academic medical centers collect DNA samples, plasma, or serum, few include surveys of family history, lifestyle and behavioral factors alongside those samples.

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Tags: research and discovery, technology

Boosting Confidence Through Adaptive Sports

Adaptive sports class at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Instructor and MGH Institute of Health Professions alumna Ali Stoll teaches an adaptive sports class at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Experiencing a disabling injury or illness can strike a significant blow to a person’s self-confidence, among many other challenges. Participating in adaptive sports often provides a much-needed confidence boost, and a range of activities help make this a reality, including wheelchair tennis, hand cycling, adaptive rowing or windsurfing.

The benefits are well documented. A study by Disability Sports USA found that people with disabilities who participate in adaptive sports are twice as likely to be employed as those who do not participate, and also experience a better quality of life and better health.

Spaulding Rehabilitation Network has operated an adaptive sports program since 2001, but offering instruction at physical therapy graduate programs is rare.

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Tags: industry interactions

Staying Out of the Hospital

Phil Tropeano and his doctor at North Shore Medical Center

On a recent Sunday in August, Philip Tropeano gathered with nearly 50 family members and friends to celebrate his 92nd birthday. There was also an extra reason to blow out the candles – the birth of Tropeano’s great-great-grandson, Nicholas.

The party came a few weeks after Tropeano met with his longtime physician, Dr. Richard Alexander. The regularly scheduled office visit had also yielded good news. Tropeano, who suffers from diabetes, congestive heart failure and kidney failure, showed no changes in his condition.

Dr. Alexander, who had treated Tropeano since 1980, says a big part of his success is the use of a telemedicine monitor. For three years, Tropeano starts each day by weighing himself and measuring his blood pressure and blood oxygen saturation level, using a console supplied by Partners HealthCare. The readings are automatically transmitted to a nurse care manager at North Shore Medical Center, who can instantly spot deviations that could be warning signs.

Dr. Alexander reviewed the readouts on his computer, noting that Mr. Tropeano typically weighs 155 pounds. If that goes up by two or three pounds in a day or two, it could spell trouble.

“If you gain three pounds in two days, it’s water retention,” said Dr. Alexander, a member of North Shore Physicians Group in Salem. “You can’t gain that much weight with calories. Two pounds one day and then two more – next thing you know, the patient is really short of breath and winds up in the emergency room and in the hospital.”

“But a simple phone call telling the patient to double his dose of diuretic [a drug that helps the body eliminate water] and you can avoid all that trouble.”

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Tags: redesigning care, technology

Growth in Health Care Costs Continues to Slow for Some Patients

At Partners HealthCare, we believe that when it comes to health care, “high quality” and “affordablility” can go hand-in-hand. Last week, we saw that point proven through our participation in the U.S. government’s Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) initiative.

For the second year in a row, Partners lowered health care cost growth for more than 60,000 Medicare patients. Through enhanced care coordination, the rate of cost growth fell by 0.46 percent, resulting in approximately $3.3 million in taxpayer savings, according to new federal data. Combined with our first year in the program, the total savings to date – shared between the federal government and Partners – tally $17.7 million.

More importantly, our Medicare patients are receiving better care. Partners ranked at or above the 90th percentile on 23 of 33 quality measures.

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Tags: affordability, uniform high quality

Why We Strive to Be Good Corporate Citizens

At Partners HealthCare, serving the community extends beyond providing access to high-quality, affordable health care at our hospitals. Promoting broader educational and economic opportunities plays an important role in supporting healthy lifestyles.

We’re very proud of the ongoing work we do with a variety of local nonprofit organizations to promote access to health care, prevention and workforce development. Our collaborations allow us to make measureable and sustainable improvements in the health of underserved populations.

We recognize that increasing value and continuously improving quality are essential to delivering the best care possible to all of our patients.

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Tags: community partnerships

A Unique Partnership to Treat Domestic Violence Survivors

For survivors of domestic violence, recovering from abuse can involve both emotional and physical reconstruction. A unique partnership between Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary expands access to much-needed treatment by providing free or low-cost care to women, men, children and transgender patients who have suffered from domestic violence.

The program began at Mass. Eye and Ear, when Missy Allen, manager of the Facial Nerve Center and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Center, approached her employer about financially supporting some of the domestic violence patients that the hospital was already treating, reported The Boston Globe. Allen now coordinates care for Mass. Eye and Ear’s domestic violence patients in the program.

MGH began working with Mass. Eye and Ear to treat these patients in 2009.

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Tags: affordability, community

Home Care: A Key Link in the Population Health Management Chain

Population Health Management patient Shirley Hutchins with a Partners at Home occupational therapist

It was late spring of this year when Shirley Hutchin’s chronic breathing problems suddenly got worse. She had been diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure in the lungs, and pulmonary fibrosis, a kind of scarring on her lung tissue.

But even after using oxygen on a part-time basis for nearly a year, she couldn’t catch her breath. Walking up and down the stairs to her second-floor apartment in an East Boston triple-decker was all but impossible.

Mrs. Hutchins, 75, called her primary care physician, who told her to immediately check herself into Massachusetts General Hospital. She spent six days in the hospital, followed by a week in Spaulding North Shore, a rehabilitation hospital in the Partners HealthCare network.

But now that Mrs. Hutchins is out of the hospital, she still needs help. She must adapt to being tethered full-time to an oxygen tank. She has to build up her lung capacity so she can perform daily chores without becoming winded. And she must re-learn how to function in the modest apartment she has lived in for 35 years.

But, she is not alone. Twice a week, an occupational therapist from Partners HealthCare at Home visits Mrs. Hutchins.

On any given day, Partners HealthCare at Home treats about 4,000 people in eastern Massachusetts, stretching from Newburyport on the North Shore to Plymouth in the south.

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Tags: coordinated care

The Case for Better Behavioral Health Care

Christine Tebaldi, RN, at McLean Hospital

More than 60 million Americans live with mental illness each year, yet social stigma and a lack of treatment facilities can make it difficult for them to get the care they need.

“While over the past two decades, the public’s awareness of mental illnesses and the effectiveness of treatment have significantly reduced the stigma, it remains a significant barrier both to the individual deciding to seek treatment and to the siting of treatment facilities and programs,” says Tim O’Leary, deputy director of the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health.

As other providers cut back, we are embarking on a significant expansion of these services, which includes adding 50 new beds – mostly at McLean Hospital – and the creation of a new Center of Excellence in Behavioral Health in Lynn. We’re also focused on improving the quality of psychiatric care, and we believe better coordination between behavioral and primary health care is key to achieving that.

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Tags: coordinated care, redesigning care

Healthier Communities Start in the Classroom

Open Circle at Boston Public Schools Tobin K-8

At Partners HealthCare, we know that healthy living extends beyond the doctor’s office to include the neighborhoods where our patients live and work. That’s why we’re proud to aid Boston Public Schools in their efforts to give teachers the resources they need to help students grow to become engaged, responsible members of their communities.

In neighborhoods across Boston, we’re supporting social and emotional learning through an investment that brings the Open Circle curriculum to 42 public schools in Boston, in partnership with the Boston Public Health Commission. Developed by the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College, Open Circle provides evidence-based curriculum and professional development for teachers of kindergarten through fifth grade students.

At the Tobin K-8 School in Roxbury, Principal Efrain Toledano is seeing clear results. Since the school began using the Open Circle curriculum three years ago, students have learned how to resolve differences and handle conflicts with their classmates.

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Tags: community

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