Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Population Health and Health Policy

Maine Emergency Department Use Study

1/1/2008 - 1/31/2009
Maine Health Information Center

1. Background: Nationally, Emergency Department (ED) use has been on the rise and many areas are experiencing overcrowding and capacity shortages. In addition, there is a widely shared perception among health care providers that patients are turning to EDs for non-emergency care, indicating potential barriers to urgent care or primary care in alternative settings. This study was commissioned by the Work Group on Emergency Department Use created by the Maine Health Advisory Council. The study was part of a larger effort to identify possible areas of cost savings in the health care system in Maine. The intent of the study, carried out in collaboration with the Maine Health Information Center, was to measure the extent and type of ED use by Maine citizens and to analyze patterns by geographic area and patient characteristics.

2. Purpose of the project: This study used hospital data and insurance claims to measure hospital emergency department use in Maine and uncover patterns of use by diagnosis, health service area, and patient characteristics.

Project approach or study design:

Hospital discharge data was used to determine total numbers of ED visits, the percent distribution of visits by payer source, by health service area, by patient age and by diagnosis. Claims data for Maine

Start Date: 
Tue, 2008-01-01
End Date: 
Sat, 2009-01-31
Legacy Muskie ID: 

Cutler Institute awarded $600,000 to help youth raised in foster system

Marty Zanghi

USM's Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy has been awarded a $600,000 grant to help young people raised in Maine's foster system to prepare for college and the workforce.

The money comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation as part of a $5.4 million national effort aimed at youth who are homeless or in either the foster care or juvenile justice systems.

"Many of these young people have suffered abuse or trauma and were raised in poverty and neglect," said Marty Zanghi, the Cutler Center's youth development director.

The money -- including an expected $400,000 more in matching funds -- will pay for contracted work with agencies in the target areas, starting with the greater Portland area and Penobscot, Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Nationally and in Maine, only about 3 percent of people who grow up in the foster care system achieve a college degree, he said.

"It's dramatically lower than the rate for the general population," Zanghi said. "It's a horrible outcome."

It doesn't have to be that way, though.

"There are young people that overcome these circumstances," he said. "I know people who have master's degrees and Ph.Ds."

The Casey Foundation's national effort is being called the "Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential" (LEAP) initiative.

The initiative is working on partnerships in Maine and nine other areas: Alaska, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York. In each case, people will adapt two evidence-based models to meet the needs of these youth, including support to address the trauma they may have experienced in their lives.

In Maine, the work will include a pair of successful programs, Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) and Jobs for the Future. Results will be carefully tracked, Zanghi said.

After the first year, the program is expected to grow.

"Eventually, the additional help will be available to all children, 14 and over, in the foster care system in the state of Maine," Zanghi said.

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