A renewed attention on the part of the health care delivery system in general, and hospitals specifically, to keeping people who have been hospitalized from quickly returning is welcome and long overdue (“Hospitals look to lower readmission rates,” G section, Nov. 5). However, in focusing on some new programs and services, the story seemed to miss the solution with a long track record of success. For more than a century, home health care as delivered by visiting nurses and other professionals has been the most valuable and valid means to support patients and minimize complications following a stay in a hospital.
These nurses have knowledge about the patient’s health and what in the home environment may be an obstacle to a patient’s medical progress. Yet, our experience is that far fewer patients are referred for home health services than could benefit from them, generally because of a lack of understanding of qualifying rules for coverage.
As we broaden the post-acute-care safety net, it’s important to remember that visiting nurses, who heal and teach, are most successful at delivering what patients need to avoid a return hospital visit.