For over 20 years Stoughton Health’s Home Health Program has been serving Stoughton and surrounding communities. Because of a number of changes including the impact of COVID-19, the job market, the presence of many other high quality home health agencies offering services in the area and reduced reimbursement, Stoughton Health will no longer be accepting new patients effective January 27th and will begin transitioning patients to their home health provider of choice.
While the program has provided award winning excellent care, multiple factors played a part in this difficult decision, but most notably was the shift that took place January 2020 to Patient-Driven-Groupings Model (PDGM), a new model for the timing of billing and reimbursement for home health agencies. Some experts estimated that as many as 30% of home health agencies would close their doors due to the regulatory change alone.
PDGM, however, hasn’t been the only factor playing a role in this decision according to CEO/President Dan DeGroot. “We have been making adjustments and reviewing the program for the last year and a half trying to find a way to keep our home health program viable. The COVID-19 impact definitely added another obstacle,” stated DeGroot. “We’ve had workforce challenges with recruitment and with the number of large scale high quality home health agencies in our area, including those offered by health systems we partner with already, it has led us to the decision to partner with others versus providing this service ourselves.” Other critical access community hospitals have come to the same conclusion. Crossing Rivers from Prairie du Chien and Vernon Memorial in Viroqua recently closed their home health programs.
Stoughton Health’s main focus in the next few months of change will be continuing to ensure their patients are cared for and transitioned to appropriate agencies. Teresa Lindfors, Interim Home Health Manager and Chief Strategy & Business Development Officer shared, “Our goal is to concentrate on future opportunities for our team members working in home health and to seamlessly transition our patients to their home health agency of choice.” According to Lindfors employees will have the opportunity to fill internal positions and because of Stoughton Health’s affiliation with SSM Health, opportunities will be available for employment there as well. “One thing is for certain, the patients and families involved with this program over the last twenty years were part of something special, and that’s something Stoughton Health can be proud of,” added Lindfors.