Oswego County Legislature Chairman's Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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March 17, 2006

Health Departmentís Home Health Agency Exceeds State and National Standards in Medicare Survey

We all know someone who has needed home care after a hospitalization. Perhaps they needed to have blood pressure monitored, dressings changed, help with bathing or preparing meals, or required physical therapy to regain their mobility. Fortunately, the residents of Oswego County have one of the best nursing services around to provide in-home health care.

The Oswego County Health Departmentís Certified Home Health Agency has a long and impressive history. It has been serving the people of Oswego County since 1966, and its patient care outcomes are consistently higher than other similar agencies in the state and the nation.

In the most recent Medicare survey, the Health Departmentís Certified Home Health Agency exceeded state and national levels of care in all ten categories. Compared to other certified agencies that provide home care in Oswego County, the county Health Department ranked highest in six categories and tied for highest in two more. In some instances, the county health department exceeded the state ranking by as much as 17 points.

The federal government measures several types of care among all agencies that are certified to provide in-home health care. They compare patientsí abilities to perform basic tasks like taking medicine, bathing and dressing oneself, ability to move around independently, and other criteria designed to measure the quality of a personís care.

Under the direction of Kathleen Smith, Director of Public Health, the county Health Department has a team of eight case managers, all registered nurses, who assess new patients. They work under the supervision of the patientís referring physician to develop a plan of care for each individual. The health department can provide an array of services, including licensed practical nurses, medical social workers, speech, occupational or physical therapists, home health aides, and nutritional therapists.

There are many benefits to this type of care. Home health care allows people to recover in the comfort of their own home. It helps prevent expensive emergency care, and saves considerably on health care costs. Home health care costs about 5 percent of the average daily cost of hospital care, and about 25 percent of the average cost of nursing home care.

The county Health Department admits around 50 new patients every month. They serve people in every corner of Oswego County. Fortunately, most in-home care is temporary and short-term, and ends when the patient is recovered enough to care for themselves independently. Last year they served more than 1,200 individuals Ėinfants and children with complex health needs, people with chronic illness, and patients discharged from hospitals or rehabilitation centers. All told, the staff of the county Health Departmentís certified home health agency made more than 20,000 visits to patients last year.

The consistently high quality of care that our health department provides is a credit to the skilled and professional nursing staff, Director of Patient Services Judy Watson, Director Kathy Smith, and everyone involved in this program.

For more information on the services of the certified home health agency, call the Health Department at 349-3548 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3548. For more information on the Medicare outcomes survey, visit www.Medicare.gov, or call 1-800-Medicare.

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