Keeping clear of hospital care

Pilot program to help seniors 'navigate' weeks after hospital discharge

Officials in Albany County are hoping a new volunteer initiative will help keep some of the area's hospitalized seniors out of 24/7 care once they've been discharged, and are on the lookout for volunteer navigators to help seniors make it through that complex time.

The Community Supports Navigator Program will be coming online at Albany Memorial Hospital in coming weeks. Under the free program, volunteers will be paired will participating seniors to help out in the weeks after discharge and lessen the chance of a hospital readmission.

The program is really a collaborative effort from three organizations: Albany County's NY Connects, Community Caregivers in Guilderland and Northeast Health. It's new this year and was made possible through a planning grant from the state Office for the Aging. It is only being piloted in Albany and Tompkins counties.

CSN really brings together elements that are already being offered into one program aimed at providing seniors being discharged from the hospital with much-needed support, said Erin Stachewicz, long term care coordinator for the county's NY Connects program.

"We though it would be very beneficial to have this as an option for people who are being discharged form the hospital," she said. "Rather than recreate, we'll just expand on what we're already doing."

Volunteer navigators would not provide medical care, but help guide seniors and family members in their transition from hospital to home. This could involve connecting with local services, arranging pickup or delivery of medications and arranging for transportation to medical appointments.

The entire idea is to help seniors make a safe, stress-free transition back home and avoid having to return to the hospital. Navigators would be paired with a senior for 90 days, the first 30 of which a Northeast Health nurse would be available for assistance.

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