Kirsten Gillibrand United States Senator for New York

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Schumer, Gillibrand Announce $2.5 Million Federal Investment in UB Emergency Medicine Department – New Health System Will be Designed to Reduce ER Visits and Cost of Care

Health and Human Services Award of Just Over $2.5 Million Will Fund New Practice-Plan, Putting Community Health Workers In Emergency Rooms To Link Patients To Primary Care, Other Health Services

May 8, 2012

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced that $2,570,749 in federal funding is headed to the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University at Buffalo to implement a new patient care system in emergency rooms, designed to lower the cost of health care. UB has won one of 26 national Health Care Innovation Awards, designed to provide funding to implement new patient care systems that will result in health care cost savings. Under the UB plan, community health workers will be dispersed to emergency departments where they will identify high risk patients and link them to primary care, social and health services, education resources as well as health coaching. The program is designed to reduce the number of emergency visits by emphasizing preventative health measures that will lessen the need for frequent visits. 

“Health care costs are crippling family budgets and governmental accounts across this country, but now the University at Buffalo is going to be on the front lines of that fight,” said Schumer. “This program will help reduce the number of costly ER visits and help us save millions of dollars by shifting the focus to preventative care. I have no doubt that the excellent staff at UB, working closely with doctors and nurses, will save millions over the next few years, making this investment a smart one. I congratulate UB on this prestigious award and wish them luck as they implement this groundbreaking system.” 

“When we invest in innovation and emphasize smarter, preventive care, we can reduce expensive emergency room visits, and begin to cut the costs of health care for all of us,” Senator Gillibrand said. “And there is no better place to start than right here in at UB, home to some of the nation’s top doctors and nurses providing high quality care that’s attracting these smart investments that will improve health care in Western New York, and help us all save money.” 

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, “University Emergency Medical Services, a practice plan affiliated with the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University at Buffalo is receiving an award to deploy community health workers in emergency departments (EDs) to identify high-risk patients and link them to primary care, social and health services, education, and health coaching. The program targets 2300 Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who have had two or more emergency department visits over 12 months at two ERs in urban Buffalo, New York. These patients account for 29% of all ED patients; and, 85% and 54% of all hospital inpatients are admitted through each hospital’s emergency department. Health coaching and improved access to primary care is expected to result in lower ER utilization, reduced hospital admissions, and improved health with estimated savings of approximately $6.1 million. Over the three year period, University Emergency Medical Service's program will train an estimated 13 health care workers and create an estimated 13 new jobs. These community health workers will identify high-risk patients and link them to primary care, social and health services, education, and coaching.”