Going above and beyond: McDowell Home Health earns national award for overall quality of patient care

Published 6:52 am Saturday, August 25, 2018

Ephraim McDowell Home Health has earned a place in the top 10 percent of home health care services in the nation for overall quality of care for their patients.

This is the second time this year the agency has earned this honor, which is given quarterly.

“While we have always had above average scores on our survey for patient satisfaction, we have met this national goal two out of three quarters this year. This is a huge accomplishment,” said McDowell Home Health Systems Director Susan Matherly.

Photo by Robin Hart/robin.hart@amnews.com
Britton Spears, a registered nurse with McDowell Home Health, gathers supplies needed for a patient’s lab work to be collected.

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She said the Home Health Care Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems uses a third party to send surveys to patients after they’ve been discharged from McDowell’s care, “to check to see how we did,” Matherly said. “The surveys are anonymous and we are always thankful for the responses from our patients.”

Ward said the survey showed patients consistently commented “about our therapists’ expertise and how quickly they were able to get back to doing what they love after working with our team.”

She said their nurses also received feedback about their sincere compassion and ability to teach patients and families how to continue their care after the nurses and therapists end their schedule with the patient.

“This is not just a job for our team,” Ward said. “… We do everything that we can to make sure we are caring for the patients holistically. We may be entering the home for education on heart failure, but if the patient has needs outside of that to help their healing process, our entire team steps up. We have an agency foundation we all donate into with each paycheck.” And the agency has its own food bank, and a range of clothing and toiletry supplies that can be used for their patients when it’s needed.

“I like to think we go above and beyond for any patient no matter the situation they are facing,” Ward said.

Matherly said the agency has used its own funds to build a wheelchair ramp for a patient; and purchased and installed a window air-conditioning unit for a patient who was undergoing wound care.

Photo by Robin Hart/robin.hart@amnews.com
Jody Slone, who is an RN with McDowell Home Health, tidies up shelves of adult clothing that the staff has collected for their patients who are in need.

Also, just last week, a therapist came back to the office and described how a patient’s young son only had an air mattress to sleep on, and it had burst. She said the staff pooled their own money, purchased a new mattress and set it up for the boy the day before school started, Matherly said.

She said McDowell Home Health has also worked with the staff at McDowell Place of Danville to make sure their patients’ families had nice Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners when it was apparent they wouldn’t have had one otherwise.

“Little things like that make a big difference to our patients,” Matherly said. “The ultimate goal is to help the patient and their family so they can reach their health goals,”

McDowell Home Health cares for patients in eight counties, including Boyle, Mercer, Garrard, Lincoln, Casey, Marion, Washington and Anderson counties.

Office manager Brittney Ward said, “We consistently service between 200 and 300 but are always making room to service more patients.”

The agency employees 16 office staff and nurses and has 10 physical, occupational and speech therapy team members and four certified nursing assistants.

“We also have an RN who acts as liaison and works with our hospital discharge planners and physicians to answer any questions a family or patient has about our services She makes rounds in the hospital and bridges the gap between discharge and home,” Ward said.

She added, “We want to continue to have our patients have the best outcomes they can while reducing trips back to the emergency room or admissions to the hospital. We work daily to make sure we are doing the most evidence-based treatments and including our patients in goal setting so that our care will continue to improve.”


Photo by Robin Hart/robin.hart@amnews.com
Physical therapist Jjill Lewis keeps a variety of canes and walkers in her car for patients to try out which style works best for them.

According to the Home Health Care Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers’ website, the survey “is designed to measure the experiences of people receiving home health care from Medicare-certified home health care agencies and is designed to meet the following three broad goals:

• to produce comparable data on the patient’s perspective that allows objective and meaningful comparisons between home health agencies on domains that are important to consumers;

• public reporting of survey results to create incentives for agencies to improve their quality of care; and

• enhanced public accountability in health care by increasing the transparency of the quality of care provided in return for public investment.