We are committed at Kaiser Permanente to providing high-quality health care close to home. In Southern Colorado, this mission extends from the outpatient primary care delivered in our Briargate and Pueblo North medical offices to inpatient hospital care.

Kaiser Permanente does not own any hospitals in Colorado. Instead, we collaborate with several outstanding systems throughout the state to coordinate patient care. In Southern Colorado, Kaiser Permanente is contracted with Memorial Hospital Central, Memorial Hospital North, Parkview Medical Center, Pikes Peak Regional Hospital, Penrose Hospital, St. Francis Medical Center, St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center and St. Thomas More Hospital.

Over the past few years, we have expanded our collaboration with University of Colorado (UC) Health and its two hospitals in Colorado Springs — Memorial Central and Memorial North. Like Kaiser Permanente, UCHealth is committed to providing convenient, high-quality care in Southern Colorado. Memorial Central, specifically, has been recognized as having the most experienced emergency department of any hospital in the state.

Kaiser Permanente’s work at Memorial Central and North is important to highlight. We created a hospital medicine team to staff both hospitals one year ago. This team of physicians, known as hospitalists, is a group of board-certified internal and family medicine physicians who specialize in treating patients in the hospital. The team is available to our members seven days a week to provide personalized care coordinated among primary care physicians, surgeons and specialists.

The hospital medicine team recently partnered with Memorial Central to launch a team rounding pilot. Hospital rounds are an important teaching tool for providers and patients. They involve the presentation of a patient’s medical history, condition that resulted in the hospital admission, current treatment and ongoing needs to improve patient health. This pilot takes traditional rounds a step further. It was created to improve patient communication and satisfaction scores, as well as optimize teamwork and communication between care teams.

Set up on two medical-surgical floors, team rounds begin at the same time every day and follow a standardized script. All members of the patient care team are present including the lead physician, charge nurse, bedside nurse, floor pharmacist, case manager and therapists. Every person plays a role in reporting relevant information, asking questions and engaging patients. Approximately two hours after completion of rounds, bedside nurses lead follow-up visits to make sure patients completely understand what the care team discussed with them.

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After patients are released from Memorial Central, they will be contacted by a Kaiser Permanente Care Connections (KPCC) nurse to complete a survey about the care received through the team rounding pilot. We plan to use this feedback to inform improvements to the pilot and hospital-based care. KPCC is a team of nurses, medical assistants and disease management coordinators who help members schedule primary and specialty care appointments, fill prescriptions and manage chronic conditions. Their services are available free of charge to all Kaiser Permanente members in Southern Colorado.

Finding new ways to collaborate to deliver patient-centered care has real value for Kaiser Permanente members. They are more likely to make a smooth transition back to good health and less likely to be readmitted to the hospital.

Kaiser member Bob Ross in March was admitted to Memorial Central after being found unconscious by his wife in their Woodland Park home. Bob spent three days in the hospital where he was treated by our new team chief, Dr. Lauren Bianchi. Following his release, the KPCC team reached out to Bob to answer questions and help him adjust to using his new oxygen equipment.

According to Bob, “Dr. Bianchi was very honest about what was going on with me and made sure I was getting what I needed to get well. And I still call Erica (KPCC nurse) if I have questions. She is always available to help me. The entire experience has been awesome.”

Kelly Foley, M.D., serves as the assistant market medical director for Kaiser Permanente in Southern Colorado.