Fort Sanders Foundation (Peninsula Hospital)

Implementing Occupational Therapy at Peninsula Hospital

One in four East Tennesseans suffers from a mental illness or addiction. Peninsula Hospital treats more than 5,000 of these individuals each year, and almost 500 of them return to the hospital within a month. Recovery is possible, but increasingly shortened inpatient stays require that we use the very best tools to prepare patients for a successful return to independent, productive lives in our communities. As a result of their illness, these patients often have deficits in self-esteem, coping, self-care, and simple life skills. We believe inpatient occupational therapy (OT) is a tool with the potential to reduce re-admissions and improve patient outcomes. OT teaches patients concrete ways to manage daily tasks, resulting in more confidence, coping skills, and self-empowerment. The continuation of OT-developed interventions from the hospital to outpatient is key to helping each patient find and maintain a healthy life balance.

Peninsula will partner with regional outpatient mental health providers to develop a process to consistently communicate OT plans from inpatient to outpatient care providers, thereby building on the work that starts in the hospital with the goal of preventing inpatient readmission. Patient progress will be tracked from inpatient admission through outpatient treatment. If OT proves a successful tactic in reducing re-admissions, the project will be sustained primarily through shifting of staffing plans to replace traditional therapists with occupational therapists, as well as modification of payor contracts and community fundraising efforts.