Patients need advocates

Out of the hospital and into an abyss” [Nov. 27] was spot on regarding coordinating care for people who are discharged from the health-care system. Coordination has been lacking for years and has only gotten worse with the amount of specialty care and lack of integration between caregivers and their patients. As a result, we are seeing more and more small businesses crop up to help people with care coordination. These are people in some cases with health-care backgrounds, and in other cases they are people who have had a bad experience, identified a need and acted upon it; thus, the increase in patient advocacy.

I have been teaching courses for the Professional Patient Advocacy Institute for several years to assist these new ambassadors in their role as support to people who need assistance. Unfortunately, as yet it is not a well-regulated discipline as it has been a grass-roots activity based on a searing need. But these advocates are out there in numbers and making a huge difference within the community. Please continue to keep this subject visible, as there is a great and growing need.

M. Jane Markley, Derwood

As a hospital social worker with over 25 years of experience, I know that the discharge-planning process usually begins on the day the patient is admitted. The article was particularly surprising given that the author was a nursing instructor with hospital experience. She gives the impression that discharge planning is a hit-or-miss, newly developed process that the Affordable Care Act will make more widespread. It is even more surprising that her husband also experienced a rehabilitation admission and no family planning meeting was held. The fact that the author did not try to speak to a social worker/case manager when she was not contacted and actually took her husband home with no aftercare plan in place is baffling. Hopefully, anyone who reads the article does not think this is the norm in hospital discharge planning.

Jane Harrison, Falls Church

11/27 cover (Chris Barber/For The Washington Post)

The article is unfortunately so true. We need major help in this area, where the sickest of patients are turned over to the care of their untrained and unknowing spouses or relatives, or are left on their own to deal with overwhelming medical problems. I am a widow who dealt with my husband’s cancer for almost four years.

Sandra Lea Derr, Ashburn