CHARLOTTE -- The Tar Heel State is getting older.
"We're on track to have 1 in 5 NC residents who are over 65 within the next seven years," said AARP NC’s Charmaine Fuller Cooper.
That means a population more succeptible to disease and illness. Although the flu has made headlines lately, folks from the North Carolina Healthcare Association say the stabbing chest pain, shortness of breath, and cough associated with pneumonia needs addressing, too.
"We engage our primary care providers because most of the time early on they see patients coming into their office who might be succeptible or have early signs of pneumonia," said NCHA’s Karen Southard.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, North Carolina ranks 49 out of 50 states for 30-day pneumonia mortality.
That means someone who is sick and goes to the hospital, "Post-discharge...we had a fair amount of individuals who unfortunately passed away within those 30 days," Southard explained.
The Healthcare Association has parntered wtih AARP and member hospitals in the hopes of reducing this mortality and readmission rates over two years. They're pushing doctors and nurses to take a closer look at risk factors in patients, like chronic illness or age.
Southard talked about another goal, too: "Rigorous discharge planning so patients might need to receive home health, or to extended recovery."
And of course, there's the option to get the pneumonia vaccine. While AARP staffers said they don't want to force the public into getting the shot, they do want people to talk about the risks related to the illness.
"Not only can pneumonia vaccines decrease death, they can also decrease unnecessary hospital costs and stays," said Fuller Cooper.
NCHA stated results from their monitoring efforts won't be available until 2020.