A $3.5 million grant was awarded to the Montefiore Medical Center to identify, diagnose and treat patients with hepatitis C (HCV). The grant is part of a $10 million Health Care Innovation Award from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services that was also distributed into the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Fund for Public Health in New York, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, Weill Cornell Medical College, VNSNY Choice and HealthFirst.
This award is going to be transformed into the Project INSPIRE NYC (Innovate & Network to Stop HCV & Prevent complications via Integrating care, Responding to needs and Engaging patients & providers) which goals are: 1) ameliorate care by increasing the number of patients that are under hepatitis C therapy, decreasing hospitalization and emergency department visits and by assuring the satisfaction among those involved; 2) ameliorate health by increasing hepatitis C cure rates, decreasing hepatitis C-related complications and bet on depression and alcohol abuse screening; 3) lower costs by reducing preventable hospitalizations, emergency department visits and hepatitis C infection-related complications.
It is estimated that 146,500 New Yorkers have chronic HCV and about 50 percent are not aware they are infected. It is a liver disease that can be highly severe. The virus is usually spread by exchanges of blood hence it usually happens while sharing needles and other equipment tho inject drugs and blood transfusions.
Alain Litwin, M.D., professor of Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University said in a press release: “This innovative model of care builds on our strengths and commitment to our community and will avert deadly consequences of chronic hepatitis C for many people living in the Bronx.”
The Montefiore’s project will reach 8 locations throughout the Bronx and both Medicaid and Medicare patients at risk for hepatitis C. Successful tactics already in use in its methadone clinics will base the project. Primary care will be assured to patients through “care coordinators [that] will provide care coordination, navigation, health promotion, and medication adherence to offer each enrollee a patient-centered medical home,” as in the press release, and a hepatitis C cured patient will help and share experiences too as a role model. Further, a telemedicine system linking multi-disciplinary experts will be provided to educate the primary care providers.
The NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett, M.D. noticed: “Project INSPIRE NYC brings together an outstanding partnership for an innovative model for increased access to much-needed care for people with hepatitis C in New York City. It responds to advances in medical care that now make chronic hepatitis C a curable disease. And it can be sustained and replicated on a larger scale. Far too many New Yorkers are infected, but haven’t been tested and treated. This grant is one part of the Department’s response to this deadly epidemic.”
Nowadays the cure is achievable for the majority of infected and is shorter, much less toxic and more effective. People can be cured by taking antiviral drugs for a few months.
Dr. Litwin concluded: “We will be able to make a significant impact in combating hepatitis C by innovating the way we deliver health care, on par with other innovations. That’s the whole point of Project INSPIRE NYC.”