Press-Republican

February 28, 2014

Home-health-care agency expanding

LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — Home-health-care services provider HCR Home Care has expanded operations to Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, St. Lawrence and Warren counties.

That will probably hurt Essex County’s own home-health program, county officials say, since they’ve had trouble recruiting nurses in the past and now they will be competing for patients.

The move extends HCR’s presence across the North Country. The Rochester-based company took over the Clinton County home-care program in 2012.

“HCR is a leader in providing high-quality home health-care services across New York state,” HCR Home Care President Elizabeth Zicari said in a news release.

“HCR is very pleased to bring our more-than-35-year history of quality and specialized services, as well as our award-winning care programs, to more patients and families in the North Country.”

CLINICIANS

The company’s North Country operations will be based at its Clinton County office in Plattsburgh, under Director of Patient Services Nichole Louis.

Patient-care needs will be met by HCR’s local clinicians working in the five new counties, Zicari said.

HCR struck a deal with Clinton County after the county shopped its home-health-care license.

The county privatized the service — which was racking up debts of about $2 million annually — in order to save money.

Under the deal, HCR is paying Clinton County $1.5 million over four years for the license.

EXPANSION APPROVED

HCR’s expansion plan for Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, St. Lawrence and Warren counties was approved by the State Public Health and Health Planning Council in October 2013.

The latest expansion will increase patient choice among home health-care agencies and help meet the local need for community-based, home-health services to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations, Zicari said.

She said HCR is nationally recognized for care quality and for patient and physician satisfaction, and the company has been named a Top 100 agency by HomeCare Elite, a national research group based in Lincoln, Neb.

“HCR Home Care is an essential partner in our efforts to ensure patients have the best possible care at the right time and in the right place, including the support they need to heal in the comfort of their own homes,” Karen L. Ashline, assistant vice president of Northern Adirondack Medical Home, said in the release.

“Our ongoing efforts to provide high-quality care are complemented by the expanded efforts of HCR Home Care in our communities.”

OTHER PROVIDERS

Another private provider of home health care, Visiting Nurse Services of Schenectady and Saratoga Counties, opened a Lake Placid office last year to provide its services in Essex County.

Essex County Public Health Director Linda Beers said they’ve been getting inquiries about the future of their Certified Home Health Agency, in light of two additional organizations providing the same services in the county.

“We have not experienced changes in our referrals to serve Essex County home-care patients,” she said by email Wednesday.

“The Essex County Public Health Home Health Agency continues to provide outstanding quality home care to our residents, as we have for over 45 years.

She said their professional staff has “unparalleled experience and knowledge of our patients and communities, putting us in a unique position to continue serving our residents.”

The home services include skilled nursing; physical, occupational and speech therapy; and home-health aides.

“Health care — prevention and treatment — is in constant evolution,” Beers said. “Essex County Public Health has and will continue to evolve to support the health of our communities ...”

Essex, St. Lawrence, Warren, Hamilton and Franklin counties all have Public Health departments with certified home-health programs that provide home visits.

Essex County’s home-health-care program will be impacted by both the HCR and Visiting Nurses, because everyone is drawing from the same employment pool of local nurses and competing for the same patients, County Manager Daniel Palmer said.

“That will ultimately be the case, (since) HCR and Visiting Nurses of Schenectady were awarded Essex County for their visiting nurses home-care program. 

“It will be the three of us competing for nurses and patients, which is where the issue for us develops.”

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com