- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) - The operator of the Ketchikan Medical Center has been awarded a $3.66 million grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to build on work done in Alaska.

The grant being given to the PeaceHealth system was announced Tuesday and is part of $685 million awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services through the Affordable Care Act, The Ketchikan Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/1KUtZxf ). PeaceHealth, a Pacific Northwest-based system of Catholic nonprofit hospitals, was one of 39 grant recipients nationally.

In 2012, Ketchikan Medical Center won a $3.2 million “innovation grant” from the department to go toward redesigning the hospital’s primary care services. The latest grant gives PeaceHealth the total three-year grant in one year alone, and applies the changes made in Ketchikan throughout the entire PeaceHealth system.

Matt Eisenhower administered the 2012 grant, which he said was more focused on prevention and lowering readmission rates.

“In the past, a patient would leave the hospital,” Eisenhower said, “(and) they get instructions while they were in the hospital and that was it. Now we have care coordinators that will call the patient within two business days.”

Eisenhower, who is now the hospital’s director of local fundraising, said those coordinators make sure patients have and understand their medication.

“Most of the time, once a patient leaves a hospital they shouldn’t have to come back within 30 days for the same reason,” he said.

The Ketchikan staff wrote the grant on behalf of the system and will see some of the funding.

Ken Tonjes, the chief administrative officer of the Ketchikan Medical Center, said PeaceHealth has not announced how and where it will spend the new grant money, but that generally the grant is a good thing.

“All of these efforts are focused on one thing: improving community health,” Tonjes said.

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Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com

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