Out of hospital? Bring on Meals on Wheels help

04/23/2013 4:48 PM

05/20/2014 10:43 AM

Johnson County Meals on Wheels is hoping that nutritious, prepared meals delivered to senior citizens will help reduce hospital re-admissions. It’s an experiment worth trying.

The county received a $50,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to start a service aimed at older people returning home after hospital stays. Meals on Wheels will deliver seven frozen meals to them within 72 hours of their discharge. The idea is to make it as easy as possible to eat healthy meals, which will help promote healing and perhaps reduce the chances of the patient returning to the hospital.

Nutrition workers in Johnson County’s Human Services Department will coordinate the program with hospital discharge planners. They expect to serve about 400 seniors this year, according to the Kansas Health Information News Service. A University of Kansas Medical Center researcher will track the success of the program by comparing participants with other seniors who are not receiving the service.

If the project is deemed successful, Meals on Wheels officials hope hospitals will pay to expand it to more patients. Like others in the program, eligible patients must be 60 years old and home-bound.

That sounds like a desirable scenario. Preventable re-admissions are a big driver of high health care costs. Johnson County Meals on Wheels is proposing a low-tech remedy that, if nothing else, will make life much easier for people who are going through a difficult period. If the program works as intended, everyone will benefit.

Johnson County’s grant is part of a commitment from Wal-Mart to fund new and innovative ideas for Meals on Wheels programs. The award speaks well of the county and the workers who administer this essential service.

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