DPH Awarded $2.9 Million To Strengthen Health Of Mothers And Children

Delaware was awarded a $2.9 million competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Sept. 22 to help at-risk families voluntarily receive home visits to improve maternal and child health. The state Division of Public Health’s Family Health Section will use the funds to support the development of a comprehensive early childhood system that addresses health and development from the prenatal period through age 8, reaching high-risk and hard-to-engage populations including rural communities. As part of the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, this first-time grant is funded by the Affordable Care Act and was awarded to only 13 states.

“Helping children succeed in school and in business begins early and at home,” said Governor Jack Markell. “This grant will enable us to reach at risk children in their own homes providing resources that will help them build a critical foundation for their future. By helping children in their earliest years, we significantly increase their chances of success later on in life.”

DPH will build upon four existing home-visiting programs; Smart Start, the Nurse-Family Partnership, Parents as Teachers and Early Head Start. This will involve recruiting home visitors who can serve as health navigators in Wilmington and in southern Delaware.

“The use of community health workers is documented as a method to enhance health education with high-risk and underserved populations,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director. “This facilitates a culturally competent approach to serving families.”

For more information on the Smart Start program, go to http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/chs/chssmartstart.html

For more information on DPH’s maternal and child health programs, go to http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/chca/dphmchhome.html

For more information on HRSA’s MIECHV program, please visit mchb.hrsa.gov/programs/homevisiting/.

Delaware Veterans Home Receives 5-Star Rating For Care

Quality improves from 2-star rating in less than two years

The Delaware Veterans Home, the first and only long term care facility in Delaware dedicated solely to veterans, was recently awarded the highest rating of five stars by the federal government for the overall care it provides to its residents. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) created its Five-Star Quality Rating System to help consumers, their families, and caregivers compare nursing homes more easily.

In 2008, the Delaware Veterans Home received a below average assessment of two stars from CMS for two surveys which revealed several major deficiencies and incidents of substandard care. These incidents signaled a need for all aspects of the Veterans Home’s operation to be scrutinized.

After making major management, staff, and policy changes, the Veterans Home’s ratings improved steadily, eventually resulting in the five-star rating this year.

In 2009, Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock hired Bill Peterson to take over the reins at the Veterans Home as its new director with the expectation that the facility was capable of meeting the highest standards. Peterson has decades of experience in long-term care, both in the public and private sector, and was able to fill senior staff vacancies with other experienced individuals who shared the Markell administration’s vision for the Veterans Home. They motivated an already committed staff to seek improvement wherever possible.

“Bill Peterson and his team have done a great job in improving the quality of care being provided at the Delaware Veterans Home.” said Governor Markell. “To move from a two-star to a five-star rating so quickly demonstrates how far they have come in a short period of time. Delaware taxpayers have invested a lot over the years to build and operate this facility, and our veterans who live there deserve the best care possible. Now they are getting the superior care we all wanted for them.”

The CMS system gives each nursing home a rating of between one and five stars. Nursing homes with five stars are considered to have much above average quality, and nursing homes with one star are considered to have quality much below average. There is one overall five-star rating for each nursing home, and a separate rating for each of the following three sources of information: health inspections, staffing, and quality measures.

“The significant improvement we have seen in quality of care at the Home demonstrates what a difference an experienced and cohesive management team can make,” said Secretary Bullock. “Bill Peterson and his staff are doing an excellent job, and the staff at the Home continues to improve. I am truly impressed by the dedication and compassion they display on a daily basis. While our progress is impressive, I continue to press for further improvements in not only the care the residents receive, but the quality of their living environment. There are always opportunities to make things better, and no one is more deserving of the best quality care than those who fought for the freedoms we enjoy.”

The Delaware Veterans Home opened to residents in June 2007 and currently serves approximately 120 veterans in both skilled nursing and dementia care environments. Over the next year and a half, 30 more beds will be made available in a currently unused wing thanks to an allocation of resources by the General Assembly and Governor Markell this year. The funds will mainly pay for new personnel to serve the 30 additional residents.