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VNS Westchester Launches Sepsis Screening for Home Care Patients

August, 13th 2019 in Press Releases

Visiting Nurse Services in Westchester (VNSW) has launched a new clinical program to help reduce instances of sepsis among the close to 10,000 patients it serves each year.  Beginning in August, VNSW began screening its homecare patients for signs and symptoms of sepsis using a new interactive Sepsis Screening, Education and Early Intervention tool. The new technology was integrated into the agency’s Electronic Medical Records (EMR) patient tracking system for use in assessing patients for the disease at the start of care and during subsequent home visits.

Sepsis, the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection, has been declared a national medical emergency by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is the #1 cause of death in U.S. hospitals and the #1 driver of hospital readmissions.  Commonly misunderstood as a “hospital problem,” the National Sepsis Alliance reports that 80 - 90% of sepsis cases originate in the home and community. While sepsis affects people of all ages, individuals 65 or older with chronic health conditions are at high risk for developing sepsis.

According to VNSW President & CEO, Timothy P. Leddy, “With the vast majority of our homebound patients falling into this high-risk category, our new sepsis screening tool represents a great leap forward in our ability to quickly identify signs of the condition and introduce early treatment interventions that can save lives.” Leddy added that time is of the essence with sepsis, as “each hour sepsis treatment is delayed increases the risk of death.”

As part of its professional staff development program, all of the agency’s home care nurses and physical therapists – more than 200 clinicians – underwent rigorous training in sepsis identification and treatment protocols, in utilizing the screening tool on their computer tablets, and in educating patients and their families about the disease.  

Developed by the Home Care Association of NYS (HCA), the National Sepsis Alliance, IPRO and the Rory Staunton Foundation for Sepsis Prevention, the Sepsis Screening, Education and Early Intervention tool is the first-of-its-kind in New York State and in the nation. As a key partner in this statewide initiative to “Stop Sepsis at Home,” VNSW will collaborate with statewide agencies to share sepsis patient outcomes data. The hope, said Leddy, an HCA Board Member, is to model best practices that will lead to further advances in sepsis care and wider adoption of sepsis screening among healthcare providers in the Lower Hudson Valley region.  

VNSW’s Sepsis Screening, Education and Early Intervention tool was made possible by a grant from Aging in America, Inc., and a matching grant from the VNSW Foundation, Inc. VNS Westchester is the largest and only independent, not-for-profit Medicare-certified home healthcare agency in Westchester, also serving the Bronx, Dutchess, Putnam and Rockland counties.  For more information, visit www.vns.org

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