Number of ETX hospitalizations alarming to health officials

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - When you get sick you go to the doctor or emergency room. When you're really sick you're put in the hospital.

Whereas, with some conditions hospitalization can often be avoided if preventative measures are taken.

Nacogdoches County is one of 92 counties that has a hospitalization rate at more than 50% higher than the state average. Not for everything, but for potentially preventable hospitalization conditions, a subject being targeted by the Department of State Health Services.

"We're selected to address dehydration and urinary tract infections," said Kinnie Douglas, Healthy Nacogdoches coordinator at Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital.

People in their 60's are frequently admitted with these conditions.

In five years, beginning in 2005, Nacogdoches County health providers admitted over 700 dehydration cases and over 870 urinary tract infections (UTI). The hospital bills added up fast. Close to $11-million  for dehydration and over $15-million  for UTI's.

"Any of these conditions, especially in the elderly population, can definitely get out of hand," said Beth Knight, chief nursing officer for Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital.

Health experts say if individuals had followed preventative measures, such as antibiotic monitoring and lifestyle changes, the hospitalization would likely not have occurred .

Now the state is dividing up two million dollars to implement studies and educational courses.

"What we're trying to do is look at who in Nacogdoches is more likely to be treated for these conditions and then see who their providers are and work with the providers to determine if the best practices of care are being managed," explained Douglas.

In return, there's improved health care and reduced medical costs.

Contract negotiations are underway with 16 counties, including Angelina, Liberty, Polk, San Augustine and Trinity.

Other conditions being addressed are bacterial pneumonia and hypertension.

The Nacogdoches County Commissioners Court is expected to enter into a inter local agreement with the state on Tuesday. This will move he grant along.

For more information on potentially preventable hospitalizations in Texas, please go to:  .

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