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Help a loved one age in place through hospital-church partnerships

Written by Diane Archer

Hospital-church partnerships are helping to ensure that older adults can remain in their homes and age in place. Through these partnerships, hospital staff work with church volunteers to create a social circle for older adults to ensure their personal, medical and social needs are met in hospital and when they transition back home. You may be able to help a loved one age in place with extra social supports through a hospital-church partnership.

Hospital-church partnerships are springing up all over the country. Earlier this year, the Maryland Faith Community Health Network was launched, linking the Maryland Citizen’s Health Initiative with Lifebridge Health, a consortium of hospitals, and scores of houses of faith to improve community health. Volunteers in the community partner with local hospitals to help provide support to patients both in hospital and when they return to the community. It is modeled on Methodist Hospital’s Congregational Health Network.

According to Kaiser Health News, Methodist Hospital in Tennessee partners with hundreds of churches to help ensure their members are safe and healthy and reduce health care costs. In this Congregrational Health Network model, whenever a church member is admitted to hospital, a hospital staff person notifies a church volunteer. The church volunteer then plans a visit to the patient in hospital, if the patient desires it. The volunteer also plans for a smooth transition back home upon discharge from hospital, arranging for community services such as meals on wheels and transportation, as appropriate.

The Methodist hospital-church network was shown to reduce the mortality rate for patients by 50 percent and the hospital readmission rate by 20 percent as compared with patients who are not in the network. The network also conducts health education programs promoting healthy living and disease prevention.

Lorna Linda University Medical Center in Southern California has a similar network model with churches. And, the Inova Health System in Northern Virginia also works in partnership with religious communities. It’s a win-win. The hospitals save money and the churches promote the health of their members.

Health partnerships of all sorts seem to be springing up across the country. The Centers for Disease Control is piloting community health partnerships that address the biggest risk factors for disease and death in 33 cities large and small across the country as well as with six American Indian tribes/tribal organizations.

Here’s more from Just Care about programs to help older adults be safe and healthy and age in place:


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