To the Editor:
This is in response to the letter to the editor regarding the recent exit of our local private-pay assistants from My Halo. Many thanks go out to Michael and Grace and their team for their compassionate care. Though our friends with island ties will definitely be missed, there are other options for assistance at home.
We can all agree that the most desirable option is always to maintain independence and to keep a person in their own home and familiar environment as long as it is safely possible.
There are local home healthcare agencies that we at the Clinic make use of on a daily basis. There are agencies comprised of licensed caregivers, CNAs, RNs or therapists. They provide care at a skilled level and are covered by Medicare as appropriate with a physician’s order and the care plan is overseen by the physician.
Examples would be home care after a hospital stay for an acute illness or for therapies after an orthopedic procedure to get you back to your prior level of functioning. Home health care can also provide medication management and teaching, chronic disease management and education, IV medications if needed and wound care.
The services are for a limited time as guided by the person’s need for these types of skilled care, meaning that as the person’s health condition improves, less skilled services will be considered “medically necessary.”
Another Medicare requirement is that the person receiving the care be “homebound.” This means that the person receiving the care is not able to safely leave home without the assistance of another. Leaving home for medical treatment or testing or for doctor’s appointments is permitted. Leaving for other non-medical reasons like to go to church, get a haircut or for a short trip to the grocery store is allowed periodically.
There are also agencies available to provide non-skilled services (also called “custodial” care). Examples of this are assistance with ADLs (activities of daily living) like dressing and bathing, light housework, meal preparation, assistance with transportation and providing companionship.These services do not require a doctor’s order and are not covered by insurance or Medicare, but are instead privately paid for by the individual. My Halo belonged to this category of caregivers.
The Clinic is available to provide you with information and guidance about these agencies based on our personal experience with them but the choice of agency is always up to the individual.
The Stark Law prohibits physicians from self-referring Medicare covered services to any entity with which the physician has a financial relationship so these types of services can never be under the management of the Clinic, but we are always here to answer any questions and assist you in any way we can.
Dr Lauren Hana
Boca Grande Health Clinic