Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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March 31, 2004

Oswego County Health Department Scores High in Medicare Outcomes Survey

National Public Health Week is April 5 through 11. For over 35 years the Oswego County Health Department has provided an array of programs to serve residents from birth through old age.

The Health Department's home health care agency is the highest rated Medicare-certified home health agency in Oswego County, according to a comparison released by the federal government in November.

The Medicare comparison measures 11 types of quality care for patients that receive in-home health care. The report compares patients' abilities to perform basic daily activities, such as bathing and dressing, taking medication, and ability to move around independently. The report also looks at the patients' overall recovery, their pain control, and prevention of the need to go back into the hospital.

Of the eight agencies that provide certified home health care services in the region, the Oswego County Health Department exceeded the state and national average in 10 categories. In some categories Oswego County exceeded the state and national averages by 12 to 16 percentage points. The health department is rated highest in four categories and second highest in four categories.

"The categories are designated by Medicare to help people judge the quality of care that an agency provides," explained Kathleen Smith, Oswego County Commissioner of Health Services. "All of these functions are important because health care providers should be encouraging a patient to do as much as possible in caring for themselves. We are well above the national and state averages in nearly every measure. This is attributable to the professionalism and skilled care of our staff."

Most home health care is temporary and part-time, ending when the patient is recovered enough to care for themselves. The ratings are adjusted by Medicare to take into account age and other characteristics of each health agency's patient population.

The County Health Department provides care and support services to patients in their homes through the certified home health agency and long-term home health care program. The professional staff provides skilled nursing care, speech therapy, nutrition therapy, medical social work, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and personal care.

"The goal of these services is provide an alternative to extended, more costly hospital stays by providing residents of Oswego County with skilled care and supportive health services in a safe, secure home-based environment," Smith said. "The Long Term Home Health Care Program offers an alternative to nursing home placement for residents."

Other agencies used in the comparison include public health departments in neighboring counties that serve Oswego County residents, home health nursing services provided by local hospitals, and services provided by non-profit corporations.

For more information, contact the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3548 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3548, or visit the Medicare website at www.Medicare.gov.

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