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Sovern Urges House to Pass CARE Act in Budget Bill

As the Iowa House debates the House Health and Human Services (HHS) Budget bill, House File 2460, AARP Iowa State Director Kent Sovern writes members about his recent hospitalization. Read his letter below describing the successful transitions he experienced having a designated caregiver and thorough instructions for his at-home care, measures called for in the CARE Act, which is included in HF 2460.

Kent at podium at DMU
April 19, 2016

Members of the Iowa House of Representatives:

For most of my adult life, I have been blessed with good health and very few non-routine engagements with health care providers. Like many Iowans, the conversations surrounding the CARE Act and caregiving embraced what I consider good public policy and reflected best business practices ensuring positive patient outcomes.

On Tuesday April 12, I was admitted for surgery at Unity Point Health (Iowa Methodist Medical Center) as my surgeon is affiliated with The Iowa Clinic. From the moment I arrived (5:15 am), every person I met seemed clearly focused on me as a patient AND most particularly they engaged with my spouse Phyllis (who is my caregiver) to assure appropriate post-surgery care at home.

After confirming my identity, the first question from the intake nurse was, “Who will be your post-operative caregiver and is that person here with you?”  I identified Phyllis as my caregiver and from that moment through my discharge, Phyllis was an equal party to every conversation with the doctors, attending staff, nurses and other health care personnel engaged in my treatment. In every case, after I was asked to repeat an instruction or to confirm information, Phyllis was asked to do the same.

Before being taken into the prep area, I witnessed the intake process interactions with at least six other patients with every engagement taking the same form without regard to the patients’ age or the complications of the scheduled procedure.

One small reflection of how thoughtful Unity Point Health has considered these best practices is that my caregiver was given a small spiral notepad with my name and patient number for making notes during interactions with all the health care providers. This little convenience proved especially useful as I remained under the influence of the anesthesia and pain medication for some time. When we returned home, I was unable to recollect accurately the post-operative directives and instructions. In fact, I remained so ‘out of it’ that I had no recollection entirely of at least two important interactions after the surgery.

I write this to praise Unity Point Health, Iowa Methodist Medical Center and the Iowa Clinic’s health care providers and to acknowledge that Phyllis and I experienced every essential element of the CARE act during my health care experience last week.  I think you will agree that your loved ones, constituents and every patient who requires at home caregiving after discharge should have the same positive experience.

Unfortunately, today only about half of Iowa hospital patients who require post discharge at home care are provided the level of care which you would expect for your loved one and which I experienced last week.

I came face-to-face with this reality a few weeks ago while speaking to 102 AARP members at a meeting in southeast Iowa. I asked for a quick show of hands asking if they or a loved one had been admitted to a hospital during the past two years and at least two thirds of the audience responded in the affirmative. After describing the requirements of the CARE Act, I asked how many were asked to designate a caregiver during the admissions process and about twenty hands raised.  When asked how many of their spouses or other caregivers were included in the discharge conversation… not a single hand raised.

I encourage you to assure that your love ones, constituents and their caregivers experience the best possible patient outcome by keeping the CARE act provisions in the HHS appropriation bill before you today.

Sincerely & with warmest regards,

Kent Sovern
State Director
AARP Iowa

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