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As Need for Home Healthcare Soars, VNS Westchester Expands Its Service Area to the Bronx, Dutchess and Rockland Counties

VNS Westchester Gained New York State Certification to Serve New Counties Based on Its Track Record of High-Quality Care and Community Service in Westchester and Putnam; Agency Also Announces Its New Name
March, 1st 2013 in Press Releases

Two major trends – the aging of America and New York State’s drive to make healthcare services more cost efficient – have created an unprecedented demand for quality home healthcare services in counties north of New York City. To fill this unmet need, VNS Westchester (VNSW), the largest nonprofit, community-based Medicare-certified home healthcare provider in Westchester and Putnam counties, has expanded its visiting nurse and other home healthcare services to include residents of the Bronx, Dutchess and Rockland counties, bringing to five the number of counties it now serves.

“The Bronx, Dutchess and Rockland counties have growing populations of people in need of home health services – people who are elderly, chronically ill, or at risk for health problems – and not enough home healthcare resources to meet that need,” explains VNSW President & CEO Lou Nemnom. “Our agency has a long and successful track record in providing home care services that can make a profound difference in the health and well-being of individuals in these areas.”

New York State certified VNSW to serve additional counties based on the agency’s excellent history of service and community outreach, commitment to reduce hospitalizations by providing specialty disease prevention programs, and its pioneering use of TeleHealth remote patient monitoring.  VNSW’s established relationships with multiple managed long-term care programs, and its willingness to work with the State to manage the most complex cases, were additional factors in the certification process.

Although home healthcare is an optimal way to deliver coordinated healthcare to the elderly and patients with complex conditions, there is a shortage of certified home health agencies in New York State because of a nearly 20-year moratorium on certifying new agencies. As a result, in 2011, New York State issued a Request for Applications to home health agencies to increase the supply.

Mr. Nemnom notes that many agencies applied, but only a limited number were chosen. “In the first round, the state received applications from 137 agencies and certified only 14 agencies,” he explains. “The state selected us because VNS Westchester strengthens communities. We allow patients to stay at home, we relieve the anxiety of caregivers, we serve as a partner with local healthcare institutions, and we close the gaps in transitions of care that make Medicaid and Medicare budgets balloon.  We also promote community health by offering public programs in smoking cessation, teen pregnancy prevention and chronic disease management. We become part of the fabric in every community we serve.”

Service Rollout

VNSW began serving patients in several Bronx communities in December 2012, and plans to be operating throughout the borough by the end of 2013. In January, VNSW started serving the southernmost areas of Dutchess County, primarily those south of Poughkeepsie, and recently began seeing patients in Rockland. By year’s end the agency expects to serve an additional 500 patients in the Bronx, Dutchess and Rockland, with exponential growth expected in subsequent years.  In 2012, VNSW served more than 9,000 patients in Westchester and Putnam.

To support its expansion, the agency has increased its clinical staff by 10 percent since last fall, according to Susan L. Hagemann, director of human resources. “We’re continuing to recruit more professional, paraprofessional and support staff to increase our bench strength in all five counties,” Ms. Hagemann states. Currently, VNSW and its affiliate home health aide agency Westchester Care at Home together employ more than 500 people.

New Agency Name

In conjunction with its expansion, the agency, formerly known as Visiting Nurse Services in Westchester & Putnam, has changed its name to VNS Westchester. The shift, Mr. Nemnom explains, reflects the agency’s 112-year legacy of service and name recognition in Westchester.  “We’ve kept the two most important parts of our name – VNS and Westchester,” he says. “Westchester has been part of our name since 1980, and it is how people know us. Our reputation for quality care has spread beyond the county.  When people hear VNS Westchester, they know they are receiving the best possible healthcare at home.”

Mr. Nemnom says that VNSW is prepared to meet the burgeoning need for home healthcare in the agency’s five counties of service. “With the aging of America and increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and hypertension, there will be greater demand for health services,” he explains. “We can provide the high-quality, cost-effective care patients require, and we can do it at home, where patients want to be. It’s a win-win situation all around.”

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