Ecumen Scenic Shores is one of nine sites across Minnesota implementing a $1.7 million grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to improve medication management by the elderly as a way to reduce hospital readmissions.

The new medication management program will be based on a successful pilot project started last year at Ecumen Lakeshore in Duluth in partnership with Thrifty White Pharmacy. It was developed to ensure patients being discharged from rehabilitation care centers fully understand their medications and how to take them at home. The pilot program received the LeadingAge Minnesota’s “Leading Change Innovation Award” earlier this year. Under the DHS Performance Improvement (PIPP) grant, nine Ecumen rehabilitation centers, including Ecumen Scenic Shores, will implement the model program and measure results over the next three years.

The discharge process will include multiple evaluations by and conversations with nurses and pharmacists. Patients will receive an action plan for medication management and the pharmacists follows up twice in the month following release.

“Just making sure that patients fully understand the basics of their medications and how to take them reduces readmissions,” said Shelley Matthes, RN, director of quality improvement at Ecumen. She cited studies showing that about 40 percent of seniors take five or more medications. “Often people are so glad to be going home that they have trouble focusing on anything else. The detailed discharge procedure, pharmacy education and the pharmacist’s follow-up all work to minimize mistakes or lapses in memory.”