Healthy Homes Initiative aims to prevent senior falls by repairing homes
BERLIN, Md. – Atlantic General Hospital is announcing a new program to help combat falls in senior citizens and prevent lengthy and expensive hospital stays.
The Healthy Homes Initiative will see the hospital partner with Chesapeake Housing Mission to perform repairs on homes for those in Worcester County that live under the poverty line. Hospital administrators say the repairs can be viewed as a form of preventative treatment, stopping falls before they happen.
“One ER visit alone can be thousands of dollars let alone if it turns into a hospital stay on top of that it turns into a rehab stay or a long-term care situation,” said Atlantic General Interm Co-President and CEO Sally Dowling. Dowling told 47 ABC those upgrades save money for the hospital and patient, and that same money can be redirected towards these home repairs.
“Each dollar spent towards improving the home environment translates to almost 20 dollars saved of health care dollars and financially that impacts everybody but individually it makes a huge difference in these people’s lives,” she said adding, “It is definitely money well invested and time well invested.”
For the nearly 5,000 residents in Worcester County that live below the poverty line, those types of repairs would simply be out of the budget, according to Chesapeake Housing Mission Executive Director Don Taylor.”That could be a handrail that’s falling off the front it could be a floor that’s caving in a lot of the stuff is related to falls, falls are the leading cause of injury to people over age 65,” he said.
Taylor told 47 ABC that while physical health is the main mission of the program, the home upgrades also help to boost the mental health and pride that those who receive the upgrades have in their homes, as well as helping to make homes handicap accessible. He told 47 ABC his organization recently built a wheel-chair ramp for the home of a woman whose husband was in the hospital, and unable to return without a ramp to his home per doctors orders.
It was a repair she would not have been able to afford on her own.
“After it was built, in the afternoon she’s on the deck of her new ramp and she told us with the tears running down her face, ‘he’s coming home Friday,’ that’s what it about for us,” he said. The typical cost for a project is around 1,500 dollars, and with the hospital funds, Taylor told 47 ABC his organization will be able to do repairs on an extra home per month. He says his organization is all volunteers and they need as many as they can get to help people stay in their homes and out of the hospital.
Those wishing to apply to have their home inspected and potentially receive an upgrade as part of the program can sign up on the Chesapeake Housing Mission website.