Postdischarge Treatment Costs Following Closure of a State Geropsychiatric Ward: Comparison of 2 Levels of Community Care

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Objectives: The purposes of this study were to (1) examine the cost of community-based health care services for geropsychiatric inpatients discharged into the community after the closure of an inpatient state geropsychiatric unit and (2) compare costs for patients treated with extra support through an Expanded Community Services (ECS) program to patients treated traditionally.

Method: This study was a 6-month prospective, observational analysis of 30 patients discharged in conjunction with a ward closure in October 2002 (17 patients were nonrandomly assigned to the ECS program, and 13, to standard care). We analyzed costs of care, mortality, and rehospitalization rates derived from Medicaid paid claims and other data sources and compared costs to an estimate of hospital costs had the patients not been discharged. Patients were discharged to various community placements including long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, and adult family homes in Eastern Washington State.

Results: Costs for community care were approximately half of estimated costs for hospital care. Patients treated in the ECS program, representing the most severely in-need discharges, had costs of care that were nonsignificantly higher than non-ECS patients but still significantly lower than estimated hospital care. No differences in mortality or rehospitalization rates were found between ECS and non-ECS patients.

Conclusion: Costs of community care were significantly lower than hospital care. Quality of life for patients in the community settings versus the hospital was not assessed. The ECS program was able to maintain high-risk geropsychiatric patients in the community comparably to less severely ill patients at less than hospital costs. Recommendations are provided for ways to establish community treatment programs for deinstitutionalized elderly patients with serious mental illness.

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2006;8(5):279-284

https://doi.org/10.4088/PCC.v08n0504