Discharge coordinators make sure that patients leaving the hospital or
clinic will be able to continue their recovery from home or wherever they're
A patient returning home could need special medical equipment. That could
include ventilators, wheelchairs, hospital beds or IV hook-ups. Coordinators
find the equipment and make sure that the patient knows how to use it.
A patient being discharged could be transferring to another facility or
returning to a home community. The discharge coordinator arranges for home
care or other necessary appointments. In some situations, coordinators arrange
for special services such as alcohol and drug rehabilitation, family counseling
or income assistance.
In some places, discharge coordinators are called case managers. However,
nurses handle most of the discharge coordination. In other cases, social workers
may also share the responsibility.
Those responsible for discharge coordination work closely with insurance
companies to ensure that all arrangements are covered by insurance.
Coordinators must keep accurate records and notes so that other health-care
professionals can see what is needed or what is in place.
Teamwork and communication skills are essential. The coordinator must consult
with many different health professionals to ensure that the patient is ready
Some discharge coordinators educate and train patients, family members
and other health-care professionals in the use of equipment.
Andy Libbiter is the manager of social work at a hospital. While he can't
speak for other social workers, Libbiter says he tries to educate patients
and others to be able to help themselves. "We try to empower the patient so
they know how and where to get the ongoing help that they need," he says.
Computer skills are important. Most discharge coordinators have to use
the hospital's database.
Robin Bisgaard used to be a discharge coordinator. She believes that a
person with a physical disability could do the work. "It depends on how the
job is set up," she says. "But you use your brain more than your body. If
you can talk on the telephone and enter data into a computer, you could probably
do the job."