Following a longstanding annual tradition of collaboration, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care (VNHC) has recognized DASH as this year’s Community Partners in Excellence. Each year VNHC staff and Board of Directors nominate partners in the community who work with VNHC to provide high-quality patient care and excellence. Since the inception of DASH (Doctors Assisting Seniors at Home) in 2012 (now DASH Medical), there are more than 2,000 Santa Barbara residents who’ve been enrolled in the program; more than 1,200 are currently active with DASH.
Through the years, (VNHC) has enjoyed an exceptionally positive working relationship with the DASH team. The spirit of collaboration between the organizations has included referrals to and from intermittent home care, timely transfers from DASH care to hospice care and vice versa, and strong connections to other community resources that benefited the patient and their family. The relationship helps patients receive timely needed services like lab testing, physical therapy, home safety assessments and other visiting nurse services quickly and efficiently.
Over the past five years, DASH has been able increase their breadth and depth of service. Originally designed to serve persons aged 60 and above, DASH now serves adults aged 18 and over who live in the Santa Barbara or Goleta area — either in their own home or in a housing community or in Assisted Living Facilities. They provide same day medical care to adults in their own homes or care settings. By offering prompt medical attention to people who are too ill to wait for an office appointment or too weak to get there, DASH helps them avoid unnecessary hospital stays and trips to the emergency room.
Patients are encouraged to sign-up with DASH before a health crisis arises. Participation in DASH has cut the number of ER visits and hospitalizations by nearly 40 percent for those enrolled in their program. The enrollment process involves a home visit from a DASH nurse to learn about the person’s health history and screen for common problems. Also discussed is what kind of medical treatment the patient would like, discussion and assistance with completing a POLST (Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) form and review of Advance Health Care Directives. Often, referrals are made to appropriate community resources. DASH provides same day in-home (or facility) visits for calls received by noon that day.
Nurses and doctors carry several dozen common medications so they can get patients started on treatment right on the spot. Communication of the visit is sent to the enrollee’s primary care physician (PCP) within 24 hours of each DASH visit, keeping the person’s regular doctor up-to-date on new health issues and any treatments provided. Other growth accomplishments include establishing a partnership with the St. Francis Foundation, a 501 c(3), so DASH can accept tax-deductible donations to help the organization continue to provide services to low-income Santa Barbara residents without any monthly membership fee.
The nurses and doctors of DASH have made more than 6,000 home visits, many of them to VNHC patients. Always included as essential to all concerned, is keeping the primary care physician as central in that circle of home care — surely a key to the DASH Program’s success. The feature of DASH’s “in-home response to urgent medical needs,” most certainly has improved not only the quality of care provided to individuals, but has, indeed, served to enhance their quality of life, a primary objective of VNHC service as well.
For more information, visit www.vnhcsb.org or call 965-5555.
— Kyrie Belme for Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care.