Home Health Update

7/26/2013

Contact: Tammy G. Love

VP of Business Development

Phone: (336) 651-8116

By CHARLES S. WILLIAMS
Wilkes Journal-Patriot Staff


Wilkes Regional Medical Center (WRMC) officials are nearing the completion of the negotiations to lease the hospital’s home health services programs—home health, Hospice and Community Alternatives Programs (CAP). The main hurdle remaining is the approval of the plan by the North Wilkesboro commissioners.

The town owns the hospital that is leased to the WRMC hospital operating board and managed by Carolinas HealthCare Systems (CHS), which is based in Charlotte.

Negotiations have been underway for nearly two years. The lease payments for both programs will be approximately $1,500 per month.

WRMC President and Chief Executive Officer Gene Faile told North Wilkesboro commissioners at their July work session Tuesday afternoon that the home health nnd hospice programs would be leased to Wake Forest Baptist Health Care at Home (WFBHCH) wing. The CAP program would be leased to a partnership between WFBHCH, a nonprofit entity, and the for-profit company Gentiva, which currently provides home care services in Wilkes.

Faile, who told the town board in August 2012 that the home care services of Wilkes Regional were losing $280,000 annually, said Tuesday that the programs are now losing $45,000 monthly.

“We believe we have finally worked out an agreement,” Faile told the commissioners. “The hospital board is very much in favor of it.”

The lease will be for 10 years with an option for a 10 year extension.

Faile said that one issue in the negotiations was the certificates of need – the permits from the state to operate the programs – remain with Wilkes Regional. The state CON division would not permit that and said that the CONs would transfer to Wake Forest Baptist and Gentiva. Wilkes Regional has added language to the agreement requiring Wake and Gentiva to transfer the CONs back to Wilkes Regional if and when the leases end.

Faile has said that the home care volumes had also decreased because of increased services competition from outside Wilkes.

Faile said last year that Wake officials “have assured me that they would do all they could to make sure that no employees here will lose their jobs. They will interview all of those employees who want to continue under the new arrangement. They will be transitioned to status as Wake Forest employees in order to preserve their jobs. It’s a win-win-win situation for the hospital, WFRHS, and the employees. Also, the citizens of Wilkes will not lose any of the services to which they have become accustomed.”

Wilkes Regional employs 18 full-time and part-time personnel in the home health department with seven more on the office and suppert staff. Hospice employs 10 people, and there are approximately 10 employees in the CAP office.

“We are not in a competitive situation with Wake Forest, as officials they are cooperating with us in providing services, including physicians for the emergency department and cardiologists for the Heart Center,” Faile said. “Wake Forest has the needed resources to market and expand the services. Wilkes Regional will eliminate the current and future Home Care losses.”

The town commissioners are expected to vote on the agreement at their Tuesday, Aug. 6 meeting.

 

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