Across the United States, home health and hospice agencies are facing more challenges than ever.
South Shore Home, Life & Style sat down with the leader of the region’s largest independent home care and hospice agency, Renee McInnes, MBA, RN, CEO of NVNA and Hospice, to discuss her strategy for changing the narrative for home care and hospice.
What has changed for home health and hospice care following the pandemic?
I think the pandemic has heightened our visibility. Home care clinicians never stopped seeing patients during the pandemic. NVNA and Hospice nurses were involved in comprehensive conversations with our physician partners. We were assessing and had eyes on these patients, who really should have been in a doctor’s office and in some cases the hospital. Physicians relied on our expertise, since patients were not leaving their homes. The public saw how critical we were to their families and communities. This was happening in every corner of the country.
You recently expanded your hospice services by signing a preferred provider agreement with the largest health care system on the South Shore. Will NVNA and Hospice continue to grow?
Our friends at South Shore Health decided to discontinue delivering hospice care. I was honored they asked us to care for those patients, as I have great respect for their team. Hospice care is vital, and yes, we see an opportunity to expand our footprint in the region. We are serving a daily census of 750 patients in 27 communities, and the truth is, we are being asked to do more every day. Our organization has been serving our community for over 100 years and every decision has been based on what is best for our patients. Our Pat Roche Hospice Home is a perfect example. Not every patient can die in their home, so we saw that gap in services and opened our hospice home.
In your role as a health care CEO, you are dealing with a labor shortage. Is that your greatest challenge?
Every health care organization is dealing with the staffing question. We have begun an RN residency program to encourage new nurses to join this important field. And I remain focused on my current team, who are excellent. Today, we are on solid ground for nurse recruitment and retention.
Our greatest challenge is the pending cuts to Medicare. We anticipate a cut between four and seven percent next year. This is a devastating cut, as we already operate at a loss. As a nonprofit, we remain committed to our mission of serving our community but this eventually is an issue of accessing care. Where is the breaking point for all home care and hospice agencies? It’s a complex equation that requires us to be focused on treating all our patients safely and responsibly working within a budget.
NVNA and Hospice is known for its outstanding ability to harness the power of philanthropy in the South Shore community. What is the impact of these donations?
I am consistently motivated and inspired by our donors. Our recent Grace Campaign raised a record-breaking $6.4 million. Our boards and our campaign committee led that effort with focus and clarity. In short, the home care and hospice platform will only succeed with the investment of thoughtful donors. Our future is tied directly to the generosity of our community, and we have proven that donors are inspired to support our mission.
What concerns you most about the direction health care is taking right now?
While a national health crisis put a spotlight on the importance of home health care, it also shed light on a deeply flawed system. It is imperative that lawmakers realize that home care is no longer just an assist, but a solution for the American healthcare system. The Medicare investment must be adjusted. Our team is moving ahead. This is a community that needs our services and values our work. I remain positive that our high-level care, strategic discipline, and philanthropic investment will meet these challenges.