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• University Hospital in Augusta, GA, had $540,000 in unexpected revenues in 1Q99 ended Jan. 24, following a year of layoffs and diminished earnings. Most of the gains came from trimming costs, President/CEO Richard Parks told The Augusta Chronicle. The university’s home health division also saw better-than-expected earnings with net revenues of $530,000 more than what was budgeted.
• The Conejos County Home Health Agency in Colorado is now under the direction and management of the Conejos County Hospital. The agency will run as it always did, but the county government will no longer oversee it. The county negotiated with the hospital to take over the agency in an effort to be more efficient. Nurses can now do hospital work when home health work is at a minimum.
• The owner of a Colorado Springs, CO, home health company is worried that Medicare will put her out of business. Cecile Alderman, owner of Summit Home Health Care, received a letter in January that said she owed the federal government a large sum of money back pay for going over the $3,400-per-patient allotment. "If Medicare doesn’t work with us, we won’t make it," Alderman told The Gazette in Colorado Springs. The federal government probably won’t set up payment plans because too many home health agencies owe Medicare money, the article said. Since the new rules began in October 1997, more than 40 home care agencies in Colorado have closed. Others have survived by turning away costly patients or by accepting only private insurance.
• Two years ago, the Arkansas legislature required criminal background checks for all prospective employees of nursing homes, home healthcare agencies, and elder care hospices. But that eliminates too many potential employees, according to state Rep. Stuart Vess (D-North Little Rock). Vess proposed allowing people convicted of misdemeanor theft charges to be hired as long as the offense occurred more than five years ago and the person has committed no crimes since then. The House passed the legislation 71-13 last week and sent it on to the Senate.
• A total of 80 Sarnia, ON, Para Med homemakers, who provide home care services, voted to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) last week. "Home care is an integral part of our health delivery system," SEIU Local 220 Member Organizer Pam Calder told the Canada NewsWire. "Wage cuts and the elimination of travel allowances at a time when the demand for home care services is skyrocketing is not acceptable in the province of Ontario today. Home care workers are joining SEIU because they want their work respected and recognized, and they want to deliver top service."
• According to a new study, Massachusetts doctors are worried patients are receiving insufficient home care in light of recent federal cutbacks, reported American Health Line. A survey of 1,300 state doctors commissioned by the Massachusetts Medical Society found that two-thirds said home healthcare is "at least insufficient at least some of the time," with chronically ill and elderly patients hurt the most. The study also found nearly half of physicians extend hospital stays for fear of insufficient home care, and almost 40% of doctors made house calls in response to the problem.
• CM HealthCare Resources (CMHR; Deerfield, IL), the home healthcare subsidiary of Children’s Memorial Hospital, is moving its corporate offices from Deerfield, IL, to Northbrook, IL, effective March 29. Because of its growth as a home care provider for children and adults, the company says, it needed to increase its office space. The corporate office now also houses a 24-hour nursing support station. CMHR’s Valparaiso office, serving northwest Indiana, is not affected by this move.
• Liberty Home Care’s (Wilmington, NC) administrative offices have moved to another Wilmington location. The company provides skilled nursing, rehabilitation services, medical social services, and home health aides.
• Linda George, associate director of Boston Senior Home Care, told the Boston Herald she will send out notices this week informing her clients of the restoration of the agency’s home care services. She said the agency saved enough money by cutting services in January and February to restore them, she hopes for the rest of the year. Boston Senior Home Care, one of three state-funded, non-profit home care agencies, told it’s clients at the end of December that they would be losing one home care visit per month because of an increased caseload dumped on the agency due to Medicare cuts, the Herald reported.