The Hinesville Rotary Club learned Tuesday during its weekly meeting about the home health-care services Amedisys provides to elderly and chronically ill patients.
Denise Hockensmith, director of operations for the Hinesville Amedisys office, and Becky Spell, Amedisys care transition coordinator, told Rotarians the home health-care industry is expanding to meet the needs of aging Americans. There were 39.6 million Americans age 65 or older in 2009, representing 12.9 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Administration on Aging website. By 2030, there will be about 72.1 million seniors, according to the administration, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Hockensmith said 75 percent of Americans older than 65 have chronic health problems. She said the company strives to keep people in their homes and cut down on re-hospitalizations, thus helping to reduce health-care costs.
“We have over 300 agencies and are in more than 35 states,” Hockensmith said. The Baton Rouge, La.-based corporation was founded by a registered nurse, Bill Bourne, more than 30 years ago.
The company changed its name to Amedisys in 1995; the company name is a combination of two words with special meaning, Hockensmith said. Medicor is Latin for “to heal,” and Systema means healing the whole person in Greek, she said.
Hockensmith said the company introduced its fall-prevention program, Balanced for Life, in 2008 and its care-transition program in 2010. The fall-prevention program’s goal is to manage a patient’s balance disorder so he or she can return to safe, independent living, according to the company website.
The care-transition program was formed specifically to help decrease re-hospitalizations.
Hockensmith said Amedisys also offers wound care, and care for chronically ill patients with diabetes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease. She said the home-health company also offers home rehabilitation, orthopedic recovery such as after hip- or knee-replacement surgery, and behavioral-health services for patients with psychiatric conditions through its Empowered for Life program.
Hockensmith explained that Amedisys must get a physician order before providing a patient with home-health services.
Patients who are homebound, require intermittent skilled-nursing care, physical or speech therapy, or currently are under a doctor’s care are eligible for home-health services, she said.
Homebound does not solely mean bedridden; it can mean a patient who must make “a considerable taxing effort to leave home,” she said.
Hockensmith offered examples such as an individual who needs to use a cane or wheelchair, or needs help from another person to leave the home. Patients who can drive short distances for medical appointments or to pick up their medications also would be considered homebound, she said.
Home-health services are covered 100 percent by Medicare, Hockensmith said. Amedisys also accepts Medicaid, which pays for up to 50 visits, TRICARE and other insurances, she added.
The Hinesville Amedisys office serves Liberty, Long and Bryan counties. Amedisys has 11 offices in southeast Georgia, including locations in Savannah, Rincon and Vidalia.
For more information, call 866-205-6759 or 912-877-3844.