COOPERSTOWN – Bassett Healthcare wants everyone to know that they do not have to feel alone if they are feeling stress about the Coronavirus crisis.
The hospital network has now created a hotline for anyone who needs help handling the pressures and concerns of these unusual times.
“Many people, although they may have family members in the area and are staying in touch, still feel isolated and alone,” said Ann Marie Mills, the licensed clinical social worker at Bassett Healthcare Network who is leading the 10 person hotline team. “It is often useful to them to have a non-family member or friend to feel their worries and concerns.”
The hotline, 607-322-0157, is staffed 24/7 and is free of charge.
By ELIZABETH COOPER • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Bassett Healthcare Network has confirmed that its doctors have treated one person with the new coronavirus.
Speaking at a press conference today at Bassett Hall, Bassett officials would not say which of the nearly 30 Bassett facilities the patient had been taken to or whether the patient was still inside the facility.
Bassett Hospital President Bill LeCates would say only that Bassett had treated a known case “in both inpatient and outpatient settings.”
It is Bassett policy not to speak about specific patients.
On Thursday, Governor Cuomo reported a confirmed cases in Herkimer and Delaware counties.
ANGEL TREE PROGRAM – Give the Gift of Christmas this holiday season. Adopt a family in need. Family sponsors should drop gifts at The Freeman’s Journal Office in Cooperstown or at The Salvation Army in Oneonta. Visit www.allotsego.com/angel-tree-program/ to learn how.
ONEONTA – Changing Catskills Area Hospice & Palliative Care to Helios is about opening up a conversation.
“We found that the word ‘hospice’ was a barrier to conversation,” said CEO Dan Ayres. “When patients hear ‘hospice,’ they think they’re in their last days, not last month or year. They don’t want to have the conversation.
“Now, we’re more likely to have a conversation, which means we can help the person get care early on.”
The rechristened Helios board unveiled the new name and logo at a Tuesday, Oct. 8 ceremony at Foothills attended by over 100 people, including Dr. Yoshiro Matsuo, the Oneonta oncologist credited with founding the local hospice.
The logo, a sunflower and a heliotrope, signified the care and guidance Helios intends to give patients on their “most difficult journey in life.”
The unveiling was for much more than name and logo, Ayres said in an interview the morning of the unveiling.
“The point is,” he said, “we are now positioning ourselves to provide more service than just hospice care that will help the patient stay healthier longer and at home. And there will be a value to the system to pay us to do that.”
Helios’ plan is to expand Catskill Hospice from the three counties it covers now to the eight counties in the Bassett Network’s footprint.
It has negotiated a first-time agreements with Excellus/Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Utica to cover in-home care for an extended period, reducing patients’ more expensive visits to Primary Care, and much more expensive final care in Bassett’s ICUs.
Additionally, in 2021, Medicare is going to start paying for the capacity Helios is developing, Ayres said.
Expanding its potential patient base from 140,000 people in the three counties to 600,000 in eight counties will further reduce Helios’ costs, particularly overhead – administration, HR, tech and other centralized services.
Helios’ journey to the renaming ceremony began in 2017 when Ayres returned from West Virginia for his current job and observed a grim reality: The hospice care industry was in steep decline, especially in New York State.
“Seventy percent of the state’s hospices were losing money and we are one of them,” Ayres said. “We couldn’t keep doing the same thing the same way and expect to survive.”
The state ranked 49th in the country for hospice utilization, had the highest cost for Medicare, and had more people dying in ICUs than in any other state.
“At the same time, there is a tremendous demand for both hospice and palliative care here. Sixty percent of the state population has chronic diseases and 40 percent have two or more of them,” Ayres said. “And 23 percent of the population is 65 and older and enrolled in Medicare and Delaware is the fastest aging county in the state.”
But the average length of a hospice stay was 17 days.
So Catskill Hospice partnered with the Leatherstocking Collaborative Health Partners, a Bassett affiliate, on a year-long study giving 70 patients the service Helios intends to provide from here on out.
The results were astonishing, Ayres said.
“We had multiple health professionals do multiple acute care visits of the patients for a year and were able to reduce their acute-care utilization by 80 percent,” he said. “And we saw costs for their care – the most expensive type of care – go down 35 percent.”
The study ended in June, and the results has cause the new Helios to implement this new care and business model.
His staff, many of them new hires, go to patients’ homes to care for them, any day of the week instead of a Monday-Friday model.
Our nurses get great satisfaction in engaging one-on-one with patients and helping them in the most difficult times of their lives,” he said. “They are computer literate and engaged in innovation – the right people at the right time.”
The change was accompanied by a big reduction in overhead. Helios now has one office, on the River Street Extension, instead of six. And health insurers are paying Helios to care for patients because treating patients at home means fewer hospital visits, the most expensive component of healthcare.
“We can monitor patients’ health at home better than if they rely on a hospital for care,” said Ayres. “We help them take their medicine on time and check their blood pressure to see if they have hypertension, which can save a trip to the emergency room.”
Helios staff will also spot problems a hospital exam might not catch, such as food insecurity or burning wood to heat their homes.
“We can now give patients better care and a more seamless transition of care,” said Ayres.
COOPERSTOWN – A $2.7 million start-up grant – one of only eight nationally – has been awarded to Bassett Hospital to train nurse practitioners to handle primary-care responsibilities in the eight-county network.
Bassett was one of eight institutions nationwide to receive the Health Resources and Services Administration grant.
The grant from the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration will integrate the nurse-practitioner primary-care residency, to begin with, into primary-care practices at FoxCare Center in Oneonta.
COOPERSTOWN – Bassett Healthcare Network has established a “virtual command” that will be on alert throughout Storm Harper to minimize impact on patient care in all five of its hospitals – Cooperstown, Oneonta, O’Connor in Delhi, Cobleskill and Little Falls.
“We have been working to assure we are fully staffed throughout the storm’s duration,” said Brinton Muller, Bassett director of emergency preparedness. “This is occurring at each of the five hospitals … as well as community-based health centers. We are making arrangements for staff and practitioners who may find it difficult to travel because of the storm to have lodging nearby.”
CONCERT – 7:30 p.m. Boston’s premier vocal chamber ensemble “Renaissance Men” perform vocal music from all periods, by many composers. Tickets, $25 general admission. First United Methodist Church, 66 Chestnut St.,Oneonta. 607-433-7252 or visit oneontaconcertassociation.org
SQUARE DANCE – 7:30 p.m. Dance with friends at Doubleday Dancers Western Square Dance Clubs Fall All Plus Dance. Features Keith Harter as Plus caller, Jeanne Harter as Cuer. Admission, $5/person. Cooperstown Elementary School. 607-264-8128.
ONEONTA – Fox Hospital has been designated an “LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader” by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in its 11th edition of the Healthcare Equality Index.
A record 626 health care facilities actively participated in the HEI 2018 survey, with HRC Foundation proactively researching key policies at more than 900 additional non-participating hospitals. Of those included in the HEI, 418 earned a “LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation.
COOPERSTOWN – Pediatrician Anne Gadomski, Bassett Research Institute director, was given the World AIDS Day New York Commissioner’s Special Recognition for establishing the first rural pediatric registry for transgender and gender nonconforming youth in New York State.
“There is not a lot of evidence to help inform clinical care of transgender and gender non-conforming youth, particularly for rural areas,” she said.
EDMESTON – Mary Ann Vunk, 71, assistant to former Bassett Healthcare CEO/President Bill Streck for many years, passed away peacefully Thursday July 6, 2017, at her home following an extended illness.
Mary Ann was born on Nov. 16, 1945 in Utica, the daughter of the late Donald F. and Kathryn Burns Vunk. In addition to her parents, Mary Ann was also pre-deceased by a brother Daniel Vunk in 1974, and a nephew Joseph Vunk in 2016.
ONEONTA – U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, heard concerns of key local players in the national healthcare debate this afternoon, and the two sides appeared to politely disagree on a future course of action.
“We have fundamental concerns that it” – the Obamacare revision being revived in Congress – “will not be an improvement over the current ACA.” said Bill Streck, retired Bassett Healthcare president, now director of innovation for the state Hospital Association (HANYS). “From our analysis, 200-700 thousand people would be at risk along with healthcare in our region.”
COOPERSTOWN – Bassett Healthcare could lose $5 million a year in funding under the American Health Care Act that Congress is scheduled to act on this evening, according to Dr. Vance Brown, the system’s president/CEO.
Referring to a state Health Department analysis released yesterday, Dr. Brown said “that loss may be understated, as the analysis … was limited to hospital-based inpatient and outpatient services. It does not take into account Bassett’s non-hospital based regional clinics.”