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Some N.C. Hospitals Hit With Medicare Penalty

Two Ob/GYN doctors review test results.
Mercy Health

Medicare patients who are frequently admitted to hospitals are beginning to cause extra fees for those facilities. 

The federal Affordable Care Act lets Medicare reduce funds to hospitals if patients are re-admitted within a month of being sent home.  Last year, re-admission numbers went up in about a third of North Carolina's hospitals. 

Pamela Duncan is director of Innovations and Transitional Outcomes at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. She says her hospital commissioned research to learn the sources of return visits.

"And we found out where our most challenged nursing home are in terms of re-admissions," Duncan says. 

"We found out what our home health agencies are; hospice and end-of-life care.  We began to map where do our patients live that are most likely to bounce back?  They live in the most socio-economically challenged areas in our region."

Duncan says they're forging partnerships with care providers in many of those areas.  She says bringing re-admissions down is a slow process, but she expects numbers to come down by 2015 or 2016.

Gurnal Scott joined North Carolina Public Radio in March 2012 after several stops in radio and television. After graduating from the College of Charleston in his South Carolina hometown, he began his career in radio there. He started as a sports reporter at News/Talk Radio WTMA and won five Sportscaster of the Year awards. In 1997, Gurnal moved on to television as general assignment reporter and weekend anchor for WCSC-TV in Charleston. He anchored the market's top-rated weekend newscasts until leaving Charleston for Memphis, TN in 2002. Gurnal worked at WPTY-TV for two years before returning to his roots in radio. He joined the staff of Memphis' NewsRadio 600 WREC in 2004 eventually rising to News Director. In 2006, Raleigh news radio station WPTF came calling and he became the station's chief correspondent. Gurnal’s reporting has been honored by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association, the North Carolina Associated Press, and the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas.
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