(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
With November being National Home Care month and Gov. Holden having declared Nov. 24-30 Missouri Home Health Care Week, officials at both providers of home health care hope to change that.
"A lot of people do not realize that Home Health Service can provide care for people of all ages from infant to elderly," said Felicia Baker, director of MDMC's Home Care Services. "We can help with cancer care, colostomy care, diabetic care, dressing changes, care of the stroke victim, IV therapy and amputee care to name a few.
"Even terminal care," she added. "We are not a hospice program but we can help with those as well."
"They do more than just nursing," agreed Sharon Urhahn, MDMC's director of marketing.
"We hope to make everybody aware of home care," said Baker. "There are a lot of services within home care they need to know about."
In addition to care from registered nurses, skilled professional services available from the VNA and MDMC's Continu-Care Home Care Services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, dietitian services and home health nurse aide services which provide personal care such as bathing.
Also there are medical social workers which "help with depression or community support such as Meals on Wheels arrangements or financial aid," Baker said. "They can also do short-term counseling within the home."
Urhahn said home health care is not just an option for anyone who would like it, however. "You have to meet certain criteria."
"Medicare and Medicaid require home-bound status except for children. Most insurance requires home-bound status as well," Baker said. "That means that the patient can not drive, that leaving the home creates a taxing, considerable effort."
Patients are allowed, under Medicare and Medicaid's definition, to leave the home for any medical reason or for infrequent, irregular, short-duration trips, according to Baker. If the patients are able to make regular errands they are presumed to be able to go to regular medical appointments.
For those eligible, however, it can be a nice option.
"Most people want to be at home," said Helen Sander, professional communication liaison for the VNA of Southeast Missouri. "They will go to the hospital when they are critically ill, but when they get better the first question they ask is, 'When can I go home?' People are much more comfortable in their own home than in a public setting.
"With home health care they are able to go home safely, earlier," Sander added. "Without the care, they are much more likely end up back in the hospital."
MDMC's Continu-Care Home Care Services, which provides home health services for residents of Scott, New Madrid, Mississippi, Stoddard, Dunklin and Pemiscot counties, are part of MDMC's "continuum of care," Urhahn said, working hand-in-hand with MDMC's other outpatient and inpatient services.
"We see patients right after they get out of the hospital for follow-up assessment and teaching to assist them with recovery but patients do not have to just come out of the hospital for home care to come in," Baker said. "If they are having problems and seeing a physician and need extra skilled care we can provide that care with a physician's order."