Letters to the Editor 2/11

February 12, 2001

Letters to the Editor 2/11

Home Health Care: Give us a chance to relate our story to all your readers

To the editor:

I am the director of the home health agency that was discussed in the letter-to-the-editor from Thomas Kursey Jr. (published Sunday, Jan. 14). Needless to say, our whole agency was dismayed to see the letter since we usually have about 95 percent patient satisfaction.

Although I was able to respond to his concerns privately in a phone call the next day, there are some inaccuracies that need to be clarified publicly, lest they leave the wrong impression.

Kursey stated the County Commissioners closed the Washington County Health Department's Home Health Agency, but in reality it closed due to changes in the federal reimbursement policies, along with about 2,500 other agencies nationally.


He suspected that Washington County Hospital Home Health Care had supported the closing to eliminate a competitor. This is not true, but Kursey would not have known this. In fact, I testified in support of the Health Department at the hearing held.

Together, all of the local agencies met with our senators and congressmen to discuss the dangers of the new federal regulations pose to our industry. We still meet to talk about what we can do to improve our specialty and help each other survive the changes in healthcare regulations.

Kursey also stated that the health department's Home Health Agency was "the only program that would provide service at home." He was unaware that there are several agencies active in Washington County (five in the most recent state report).

A list of the agencies is given to all patients being discharged from a hospital who ask for it. I am familiar with all the other agencies in this county and the neighboring Maryland counties and their directors. I can honestly recommend any of them as giving high quality care and as being Medicare-approved agencies.

Home Health Care's service area includes all of Washington County, part of Frederick County, and the southern parts of Franklin and Fulton counties.

We do see many patients in the Dargan and Sharpsburg area that Kursey referred to.

Due to patient confidentiality, I cannot comment publicly on the clinical issues Kursey raised. I have discussed his concerns with him personally. We have acknowledged our mistakes. We have also explained and, where possible, resolved the areas where we contributed to his distress. Kursey and his family are dealing with one of the most difficult tasks in life: providing nursing care for a parent at home.

Kursey's letter dealt with issues that truly frustrated him last October when he wrote it. Many of those issues also frustrate healthcare providers. Some of the problems in health care today are not in our control, as the whole system is an integrated continuum of care involving patients and families, physicians, nurses and therapists, insurance companies and many regulations. Conflicting goals and needs are not uncommon but good communication can help to ease the stress.

I hope you will publish this lengthy letter in its entirety and that your readers are as open to hearing the facts as Kursey was. We will continue to support him and his family through this period as long as they remain satisfied with our care.

Elise B. Poulin RN, MA

Director, Home Health Care

Washington County Hospital Association

There's no 'cure' for the aging process, but a caring companion can help a lot

To the editor:

When aging and chronic or life-threatening illness call out our name and begin to challenge normal routines and assumptions, we enter a strange and foreboding land with unmarked paths. And this journey, like no other previously experienced, has sharp curves and deep canyons. New needs emerge requiring adaptation of both small and mammoth proportions. Lives once on cruise control and fixed (seemingly) begin to crash into thick, resisting walls. Such is the prevailing state for many in our communities.

On a recent trip with my aging mother we talked about the future and the impending changes it would require as her life lengthened. She broke through the conversation and said to me quite forthrightly: "As I live out the rest of my life I do not want to be contentious. And I ask that you all (the family) be patient with me." I teared up inside and understood in a deeper way that aging and terminal illness not only gridlock the victim but family, friends and communities as well.

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