Kadlec’s Project Homecoming: Addressing food insecurity in hospital readmissions

Kadlec’s 2013 and 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment identified access to care as one of the prime needs to be addressed in our community. The particular problem of malnourishment was identified through analysis of our patients’ social determinants of health. A team at Kadlec found patients arriving at the hospital for a variety of ailments were already malnourished because they lacked food resources at home. After discharge, these patients were being readmitted to the hospital because they didn’t have sufficient food resources available to them.

The clinical nutrition team at Kadlec was challenged to find a way to help these patients become more nutritionally safe after going home from the hospital. Kadlec’s clinical nutrition team, in partnership with our physicians and Meals on Wheels, conceptualized a new program. Patients would be identified to pilot in the program and would be provided nutritional drink supplements to take home at discharge. Additionally, Kadlec case managers would link these patients directly to the Meals on Wheels program to ensure they would receive nutritionally sound meals at home on an ongoing basis. The concept was brought to Kadlec’s Board Planning Committee for resources and support and was ultimately funded by Kadlec as well as the Three Rivers Community Foundation, in partnership with Meals on Wheels.

Project Homecoming’s pilot program was initiated in 2016 to address the nutritional needs of patients diagnosed with malnutrition while in our care. The findings from the pilot have been extremely positive. Twenty-nine patients have been identified and of those only 3.4% (equal to one patient) have been readmitted. This compares to a 5.5% readmission rate for identified malnourished patients who were not on the program. Wheatley says the improved statistics tell only part of the story. “These numbers are great yet they don’t truly show the positive impact the program has had on our patients,” said Wheatley. “Participants have said the daily contact with Meals on Wheels volunteers and the food and supplements have been a lifesaver.”

Click here for a video segment on Project Homecoming.

 “Kadlec’s nutrition experts learned that a frequent reason for patients being re-admitted to the hospital is due to malnutrition. This is for a variety of reasons, but chief among them is patients often don’t have the means to eat properly when they go home, and end up back in the hospital. So, Kadlec approached our team to develop a program to identify malnourished patients before they leave the hospital and set them up with Meals on Wheels after they go home. This partnership is already succeeding with reduced re-admissions to the hospital, not to mention the social interaction the patients receive when their meals are delivered by our volunteers. Additionally, Kadlec has generously contributed financial resources and excess equipment to help service our new kitchen and growing program. I can’t tell you what this support has meant to our organization. This is just one meaningful way Kadlec is involved in improving the quality of life of the Tri-Cities.”  

Grant Baynes, Executive Director

Senior Life Resources Northwest

Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels

“I had some food, but didn’t have enough to sustain myself. I was severely dehydrated as a result of my diabetes. It affected my thinking. I knew my name, but didn’t know much else. Cindy (Wheatley, Kadlec Clinical Nutrition Manager), asked me if I wanted Meals on Wheels when I got home, and that was an answer to prayer. That sounded wonderful so at least I could get one hot meal a day. It’s one of the highlights of my day to have the nice people coming to my door and give me the food. They are all wonderful people. It’s been a blessing all the way around.”

Annette Noga

Project Homecoming Patient

By: Nikki Ostergaard, Communication Manager