Wallowa Memorial Hospital has eliminated its home health care service in favor of a more integrated model of providing care.
The service was licensed to provide nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech pathology, among others.
Jenni Word, the hospital’s chief nursing officer, said the
move was part of a national trend in home health.
She noted there had been a decrease in patient levels locally in the past two years, with a 29 percent decline last year.
It was no longer a profitable service for the hospital, she added.
Home health responsibilities have been for the most part absorbed by three clinics in the county –– Mountain View, Winding Waters and Olive Branch.
“We would not closed the service if there had not been options,” Word added.
Nora Stangel headed the program for the hospital for more than 30 years. She has moved into a similar position with Winding Waters.
Of the two other nurses employed in the program, one rejoined the nursing staff at the hospital and one retired.
The program ended officially Sept. 1.
Word said the clinics have the potential to do the home health work better and with less regulation than what the hospital experienced.
“For instance, they can go out and see other patients who may not be homebound,” she said. “It’s much better for the patients. Everyone in the program was handed off to his or her primary care provider clinic seamlessly.”
She noted the hospital’s home health group had done an “amazing job of providing high-quality care” since its inception in 1985.
Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare announced it would sell off its home health and hospice businesses in January, citing “unnecessary risks the businesses pose” to the company’s financial picture.
Word, who recently attended the National Rural Health Association conference in Kansas City, said she learned the partnership between the hospital and the clinics is somewhat unique.
Medicare defines home health care as a wide range of health care services that can be given at home for an illness or injury. It has been pushing implementation of such programs for years as a way of decreasing costs.
Wound care, patient and caregiver education, intravenous or nutrition therapy, injections and monitoring serious illness and unstable health status are among services generally delivered through home care.