Austin medical center ends home health care

Published 9:49 am Monday, June 4, 2012

AUSTIN — Though Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin’s Home Health Services shut down Thursday, local home health care providers say they’ve seen a smooth transition for patients.

Medical center officials announced last month they would shut down home health services, citing a plethora of other providers. The move affected about 59 patients and 11 staff.

“When we started the home health program 28 years ago, we were one of the only providers of the service in the community. Today, there are at least 12 companies that provide high-quality home care services to the community and it is their only focus,” said Diane Twedell, vice president of operations at the medical center.

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Hospital workers contacted patients through phone and letters laying out home health care options in the area. All of the patients have since switched to other service providers, according to local home health care services.

“We had our last patient switch” on Thursday, said Barb Hann, nurse manager at the medical center’s hospice program.

Hann said medical center officials contacted providers after they called patients, letting providers know what to expect and getting preliminary transition work done. Once patients decided who they wanted to work with, they let hospital staff know. Medical center staff then worked out a transition with home health care providers that Hann said worked very well.

“We tried to make it as seamless as possible,” she said.

The move has come at a good time for home health providers looking for more clients. Once the medical center announced its home health program was closing, more providers contacted hospital officials asking to be listed for patients.

“We saw a nice boost and we’ve been enjoying getting to know these new clients,” said Cathy Beyer, clinical site manager with Regency.

Beyer said Regency hired extra staff in response, and since then Regency is continuing to grow with a little more than 60 clients getting services in Personal Care Assistance, homemaker services, home health services, physical therapy and more. Other services like International Quality Home Care say they’ve received a bulk of the transfers as well.

The medical center’s hospice program is still open.