Q: Tell us about Conemaugh Home Health.
A. Conemaugh Home Health’s a department of Memorial Medical Center. We have nine offices serving all or part of 10 counties in West Central Pennsylvania. We have roughly 210 employees, and our clinical staff includes registered nurses, occupational, physical, and speech therapists, nurse aides and medical social workers, and we provide services for a host of medical conditions and post surgical conditions as well as psychiatric nursing and maternal child care, and we do about 120,000 visits a year which requires us to drive about 1.1 million miles to and from patient homes.
Q. Talk a little bit about the national recognition that Conemaugh Home Health just recently received.
A. For the second year in a row we were named Home Care Lead Agency, and that award has only existed for two years so we won it both years. This year we were fortunate enough to be named a Top 100 Agency and that’s out of nearly 7500 Medicare Certified Agencies across the Country that were assessed so it places us among the best one percent in the Country, and we received that award in large part due to the quality of our patient outcomes and also our quality improvement scores. I should also mention that we rank in the top two percent in the Country and top five percent in the state for keeping patients out of the hospital which is a very important indicator of care in the home care industry.
Q. Great. The indicators for patient satisfaction, how do you all measure that and talk a little bit about that.
A. Okay we use a national patient satisfaction firm called Press Ganey and they benchmark us against other home health agencies across the Country and nationally we rank in the top five percent in terms of patient satisfaction and in the region out of about 115 agencies we rank in the top three percent so we do have some good indications that our patient satisfaction scores are very good.
Q. Tell me about some examples of satisfied patients.
A. There was a lady in Florida and her parents lived back here in the region and both of them required home care and they required multiple levels of care, and she was very concerned and stressed. Living in Florida, you know, she wanted to help but because of the geographic distance it created a problem and a challenge for her, and we took both her mom and dad as patients and went in and coordinated multiple disciplines in the home and she was just so thankful because she knew that the care of her parents were in good hands and we kept her appraised every step of the way. We phoned her on the regular basis telling her how her parents were doing and she couldn’t be thankful enough to us.
Just recently we had a couple who sent us a thank you letter, not only Conemaugh Home Health but also other entities within the Conemaugh Health System and thanked us because they were able to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary together so, you know, we did enable them to stay in the home and improve from the medical conditions that they had so sure. I also have another example of a patient if you want. There was a gentleman who due to a very debilitating disease had stayed in a nursing care facility for many, many years and he wanted to go home and the nursing home was doubtful that he would be able to go home and live independently, and we took this individual on as a patient and we coordinated care with community services and we taught the neighbor who was also his caregiver how to care for the patient, and I’m happy to say after a year this person is still living at home and both the patient and the caregiver are very thankful to us for helping them to do that.
Q. That’s great. That’s great. And what would you say adds to the success or what makes Conemaugh Home Health such a successful agency?
A. I think there are a number of things. First of all we have excellent employees who want nothing more than to provide the highest level of care to our patients and as a team we’ve built a culture of excellence I think that focuses on things like quality improvement, improving our clinical outcomes, improving our processes, and we also spend a lot of time educating our employees about the various medical conditions that they’ll face when they go into the homes of our patients. And finally I think we belong to one of the greatest healthcare systems in the Country in the Conemaugh Health System, and that really provides us with a tremendous amount of resources that enables us to do our jobs better and easier and it also provides a continuum of care for our patients.
Q. When you are looking to hire someone at Conemaugh Home Health, what kind of person, what kind of caregiver, what kind of healthcare provider are you looking for when you are looking to add someone to the Conemaugh Home Health team?
A. Well aside from educational and licensure requirements, we look for people who are proficient and experienced in their field whether it be a clinical field or a professional field. We also look for individuals who have good communication and people skills who are energetic, who require a minimal amount of supervision, and also we look for people who have an attitude or a commitment to serving because our entire mission is focused around serving other people so that quality is very important.
Q. Of course the clinical licensure the whole, you know, the education and all that is very important but isn’t it almost just as important that you do have someone that has those people skills because I would think that that’s just as important as the clinical side?
A. Oh absolutely because many times we are dealing with people at one of the most vulnerable stages of their lives and we do deal very heavily with the elderly and it’s just so important to not only help people feel better from a medical standpoint or a clinical standpoint but also from an emotional standpoint.
Q. What are some of things that you hear kind of repeatedly about the caregivers that are a part of Conemaugh Home Health.
A. I think that one of the things that we hear most frequently is how we go above and beyond expectation in meeting the needs of our patients and sometimes people are surprised at how detailed we are in assessing those needs for our patients, and of course we also hear how compassionate and caring and professional we are. So those are things that, you know, we’re very proud of.
Q. Why is it important to get care in the home?
A. Well I think everyone wants to stay in their home. There have been national studies done on this where people do not want to be in an institution. They feel most comfortable at home and that’s what we do. We help people to stay in their homes and that’s a very important quality of life that people want to have.
Q. A lot of people are facing situations. You have a lot of people in the sandwich generation who now have to take care of their parents. They are trying to do that. They are not medical experts and there is a fear of the unknown. They’re afraid to have their family member in the home because they don’t know what to do. How does Conemaugh Home Health help their fears subside?
A. Yes. We can come in and ease those fears in large part due to the education that we can provide caregivers and patients, and, you know, we recognize that family members and patients are not healthcare experts and that’s where we come in and we do do a lot of teaching to people, to our patients, and to the caregivers, and I think that, to a great extent, helps to ease that fear.
Q. Tell me a little bit about, let’s see, home care elite and as far as what goals do you set now? I mean are you, obviously, do you set higher goals now that once you’ve established something like that? I mean yeah it’s great that you hit that, but do you set higher marks now?
A. We do. You know it’s just as hard to stay on top as it is to get there and we always want to be improving in all areas of our agency and of course our clinical care is the most important area that we want to improve upon. So yes we do want to continue to keep improving.