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The NSPA Blog

Churches Filling the Gap for Seniors in Need

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Posted on July 17th, 2017 by Teri Dreher, under Patient Advocacy, Senior Orphans

Faith Leaders Help Seniors in Need  

One of my favorite referral partners is a local church!  They refer individuals to NShore Patient Advocates that require more complex care management.  These individuals require an advanced practice nurse beyond what their volunteers are able to provide. A few weeks ago the pastor called us about a woman who needed placement in a long term care facility.  She exhausted her rehab days and she was on Medicaid. Unfortunately, this is a common dilemma that we see all too often.  Patients reach a plateau, run out of Medicare days and are unable to go home safely.  Now they need long term placement, in a hurry!

Long Term Care Placement Concerns

Medicaid beds in skilled nursing facilities (SNF’s) are prime real estate.  Illinois Medicaid reimbursement rates are about $140 per day. For that reason, long term care facilities prefer private pay residents for 9 months or as long as 2 years.  Facilities are unable to survive and provide quality care at that rate. Unfortunately, patients have access to less than desirable facilities inconveniently located to family or friends.  Unfortunately, fewer limited options are available for people in need of long term skilled placement after they are already on Medicaid. It is a sad state of affairs, especially for Illinois with serious financial challenges. I wonder sometimes what would happen if some of our elected officials had to watch their own parents go through these challenges.  

Unfortunately, the present healthcare system is not financially sustainable.  We are desperate for long term solutions that work. Seniors are caught in the middle, victims of a financial and healthcare tornado.  Everyone is nervous about what is around the corner.  Baby Boomers stress about their own parents’ care and wondering what will happen to them?

Churches Rise Up

Fortunately, many churches will rise to the occasion with a grass roots campaign.  They see their congregational members with new eyes. Seniors and adults with disabilities are the new, under-served minority. Unless people have strong family and social networks, chronic illness can overwhelm them.  I am happy to see that some churches take interest and rise up to ask what can we can do to help the lost, forgotten and marginalized among us.  These people aren’t hiding.  They are right in front of us every day.

I applaud churches who have active senior ministries, Stephen Ministry groups, parish nurses and a robust volunteer force. And I am very grateful to those with benevolence funds and reach out to us as trusted resources and consultants. Untangling complex messes require a professional nurse advocate.  Everybody needs an advocate these days.  For those who have no family, we are a fair substitute. I love to see all of those willing to fill the gaps, no matter the cause. As Margaret Meade once said, “ Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Amen to that!

With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

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