BEAR Press Release
The importance of a home health organization in a community cannot be underestimated in these times of rising health care costs. Community Nursing Services, which operates statewide, celebrated its 90th anniversary last year and a branch of it has been located in the Price area since 2000.
“Our mission statement about what we do is very important to us and we drum it into our employees heads constantly,” said Charity Kiahtipes, the business manager for the company in the local area, during the Business Expansion and Retention General Board meeting on Thursday. “We create moments and exceptional experiences that heal individuals and families by putting health, dignity, comfort and well-being first. We are a non-profit organization and it is our privilege to serve people in the communities in which we live.”
The local office services all of Carbon and Emery counties with 37 employees, providing care for home-bound patients and hospice. Kiahtipes said the fact that they have so many offices in the state is helpful to patients because if they move to another area, permanently or temporarily and need help, they can usually transfer services to where they are staying.
The company provides home health services (nursing, therapy at home), hospice, respiratory services, a pharmacy that provides infusion therapy, tube feeding and office medications. They also do immunizations of all types. Flu shots are available from November through March and will they will go to businesses to provide them as well. They also have a walk in clinic at their local office with hours from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“However, if there is a nurse there any other time, we are open as well,” said Kiahtipes.
The company also has 24-hour-per-day nursing available with local nurses serving in that capacity.
Candace Brady, who works for the company as the patient care coordinator, spoke about oxygen therapy that is available through the company. She discussed respiratory equipment that the company offers, including one machine that allows patients to fill oxygen bottles in their own homes in order to have flexibility in moving about and doing things away from the machines. She said they also offer a full range of other care equipment for people who are home bound. With the CPAP machines, there is also online monitoring for them so that nurses and doctors can tell what is going on if they are not there.
“We have all the things that a person may need for hospice needs,” she said. “That way, the clients we take care can get the things they need quickly.”
She also talked about the Telehealth machines they have. These devices automatically inform the patient that it is time to check their O2 levels, their blood pressure and weight. This is an extra way for the caregivers to be able to keep an eye on patients who might need extra monitoring in their home. It alerts the staff directly if something is out of the pre-set parameters.
The company also offers overnight oximeter testing, which measures peoples oxygen throughout the night, because that is when oxygen levels in the body often drop and the patient doesn’t even realize it.
“The device is like a watch and the patient wears it overnight,” said Brady. “Then, in the morning, we can get very quick results back to those caring for the person and from there they can decide what to do.”
Kiahtipes then spoke about procedures and protocols in working with patients with various types of conditions. She said that they have information books that the nurses take to the patient and they work on them together for a few weeks, which helps to educate the patient on what their health condition is and how to deal with it, the medications and the side effects of their condition.
Wound care is also a problem with many patients and the company has a certified wound care nurse on staff. The company also provides various types of therapy in the home, including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. They also have nurses aides that help with bathing and other personal needs as well as people who do light housework and meal prep for patients.
Tisa Pendergrass, who works as a hospice nurse for the company, also spoke about the nursing team. She said that the nurses on the team do both hospice and home health care.
“We try to protect our nurses in hospice because there is a burnout factor,” she said.
She said that the company also offers non-denominational chaplain services to help with the spiritual wellbeing of the patient. She said that they deal with clients who have a lot of questions that need to be resolved about their condition and about end of life. There is also a social worker to help with things like end-of-life planning. There are also personal care aides who help family members when the end is drawing near for a patient and they need instruction on how to care for the person.
One unique thing the company has is a music therapist, who plays the harp, which is very comforting to many people in their last days. The woman doing that visits from the Wasatch Front and she has many, many requests for her services. She even plays for patients who want to listen when some of them are gathered at the local nursing homes.
One of the most important aspects of the company is the volunteers that help people that are home bound. Volunteers come in and do everything from giving the family caregiver a break to reading books to patients. Anyone can volunteer to help in homes and the company is always looking for people to do so. Volunteers are vetted and must pass a background check to ensure they are the right fit for people in need.
Each year, the company also raises money for the Senior Wish program. This program gives people in hospice the chance to have a wish fulfilled before their life is through. It can be as simple as one more lobster dinner or even trips someplace, doing something they want to do.
“It is a way for a home health or hospice care patient to relive an old memory or have a new adventure,” stated Kiahtipes.
The funding for the Senior Wish program comes from fundraisers the company does each year. Those fundraisers include PJs and Purses, where women go to the Tuscan overnight and they play bunco for hours. They also have a cornhole tournament for the men.
“I am amazed at this community and how much they donate to us for our patients,” said Kiahtipes.
There is also the Honor Salute program as a final tribute to veterans who are in their care. It is done in patients homes and they work with the VFW to provide the salute. Over 200 of them have been conducted in Utah to date.
“It is such a touching moment when the patient and the VFW participants salute each other,” said Kiahtipes.
They have also, through the charitable giving, been able to do things like replace an electric fireplace/space heater for a patient as well as cover the funeral costs for some that have little money.
The company accepts a very broad spectrum of insurance plans to cover the costs of care.
“There are very few insurances that we do not accept,” said Kiahtipes. “We also have a charitable care program that is provided for the uninsured and underinsured clients. We don’t turn anyone down.”
She said that in 2018, CNS provided over $2 million in uncompensated care in Utah.