Innovative program reducing frequent ER use

From the News-Press:

A pilot program designed to prevent people from repeatedly using Lee County’s swamped hospital ERs, particularly for non-life-threatening substance abuse and mental health disorders, has successfully reduced usage, a new report finds.

The Extended Community Health Outreach, or ECHO, program gives patients who frequently use ERs help finding housing, access to mental health or substance abuse treatment, and information to better maintain their chronic illnesses, such as diabetes.

Since it began with a handful of patients in 2013, ECHO has resulted in nearly 500 fewer ER visits by these patients and an estimated $320,000 in avoided treatment costs, according to Lee Memorial Health System.

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