As a ministry of the Catholic Church, Catholic Health was formed to preserve and expand our mission of serving those in need. To support our mission, we rely on key partnerships with health professionals and organizations throughout the region.
One of our most valuable partnerships is with Catholic Medical Partners. This network of nearly 900 area physicians shares our vision of leading the transformation of health care in our communities. This transformation involves creating a new and improved patient experience – one that saves time and money while improving quality, safety and access.
By working together, Catholic Health and Catholic Medical Partners are empowered to give patients the kind of care they trust, and the kind of experience they value. Together, we are committed to changing the way health care is delivered, through better care coordination, investments in technology and new methods of sharing information.
A key component of our vision is the implementation of “Patient Centered Medical Homes.” This new approach encourages patients to take a more active role in their own care. This involvement improves their quality of life and reduces unnecessary hospital admissions. Led by physicians, the Patient Centered Medical Home ensures patients are delivered the right care, in the right place and at the right time.
Critical to the success of this program is the use of care coordinators – nurses who work one-on-one with patients to help manage their chronic medical conditions including diabetes, congestive heart failure or coronary artery disease. Care coordination is a service that goes beyond a typical doctor’s office experience.
Today there are more than 100 care coordinators working directly with patients to maximize their treatment and improve outcomes. Ongoing communication among physicians, patients and care coordinators is critical to this process and is facilitated by the area’s most advanced electronic medical records system.
Today more than 70 percent of our physician practices use electronic health records compared to 40 percent nationally. For patients, this means that their complete medical history is readily available to help doctors and others clinicians make the best decisions regarding their care.
By providing health education and ongoing support, the care coordinators work to keep these patients healthy, active and out of the hospital. For example, if a diabetic is experiencing an elevated blood sugar, the Care Coordinator can intervene before the problem requires hospitalization.
We know by experience that if a patient is a partner in their own care, they are better able to manage their medical needs. By giving patients (and their families), the educational tools they need to maintain their health, they are able to monitor changes in their medical condition and make healthier lifestyle choices along the way.
Our patient education programs also generate greater awareness of preventive actions, resulting in healthier individuals, with an improved quality of life. Last month, for example, over 150 stroke patients and their family members attended a free community education program sponsored by Catholic Health entitled, “Living with Stroke” to help improve their quality of life following a stroke.
The program included a panel discussion from leading physicians, rehabilitation specialists, and stroke survivors and their families. The panel discussed the affects of stoke, providing information on stroke prevention, and looking at the latest advances in stroke care. Patients and families shared their personal stories in hopes of helping others.
Given the success of this program, a follow up session will be held in the near future to accommodate the growing interest in learning about stroke prevention and care. It’s this kind of information sharing and connection with our patients and families that keeps us true to our mission.
Catholic Health’s free education and screening programs help area residents monitor their health to prevent medical conditions from developing. To find an upcoming education or screening program, or for a physician referral, visit our website and events calendar at
www.chsbuffalo.org or call our HealthConnection weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (716) 447-6205
In Catholic Health, quality, safety and compassionate care go hand-in-hand to provide the best care experience for our patients. That’s the commitment of every one of our associates, every day.
Joseph McDonald is president and chief executive officer of Catholic Health.