Mileage Study Press Conference Highlights: Lisa Harvey-McPherson Shares Perspective on Providing Home Care and Hospice Services in Maine
January 14, 2016 01:22 PM
On December 16, 2015, the Foundation for Hospice and Homecare and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) held a press conference (see previous NAHC Report article here) to present the findings of a study documenting that nurses, therapists and home care aides who serve chronically ill, elderly and disabled patients drive nearly 8 billion miles each year. The press conference included remarks from a number of experts in the home care and hospice community, and NAHC Report is publishing a series of articles providing in-depth coverage of their remarks.
Lisa Harvey-McPherson, the Vice President for Government Relations and Chief Advocacy Officer at Eastern Maine Homecare in Brewer, Maine, spoke at the press conference and provided her perspective on the challenges and realities of providing home care and hospice services throughout Maine. In introducing her, NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris praised Ms. Harvey-McPherson and her organization, which she said covers “nearly the entire state of Maine” with home care and hospice staff traveling 3.1 million miles and providing 157,000 home visits and hospice visits each year, with over 1,200 patients receiving home care and hospice services on any given day.
“With population density of 10 people per square mile, we have more moose and deer on the road than we have vehicles and our staff are very skilled at avoiding them,” Ms. Harvey-McPherson said.
She also described how nurses reach those patients who live on islands in Maine. “Maine is known for its beautiful coastline, and off that coastline we have Islands where patients live year-round,” she said. “On of the many patients we will see this week is a hospice patient who wants to die at home on an island off the coast of Portland. She wants to be comfortable surrounded by family and friends. So our home care nurse, our hospice nurse, will take the ferry from Portland. In the summertime we compete with every tourist in America. This time of year it’s not so bad, but we have a limited schedule. We’ll sail to the island, the family will pick us up and the nurse will provide care. We arrange for lobstermen to come and pick us up and bring us back to the mainland so we can go to our car and we can continue to provide hospice care to patients in southern Maine.”
Ms. Harvey-McPherson explained the importance of supporting nurses by providing better technology and common-sense changes to make it easier to care for people in their homes. “Maine has one of the oldest populations in the country, and our nurses are aging too,” she said. “Of 22,000 nurses in Maine, over 50 percent are over 50, and 5 percent are in their 70s, and they’re still working. So we have a responsibility to know that home care nurses and hospice nurses are our strategic asset in how we deliver our mission to provide care, and home health telehealth technology supports our nurses to be in the right place at the right time for critical intervention that avoids emergency room visits and hospitalization.”
In addition to speaking about the importance of telehealth, she said it is important for Congress to pass the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act to allow non-physician practitioners to certify home health services. “Our nurse practitioners are also a critical part of our health delivery system,” she said. “Last week I met a nurse practitioner in independent practice – 30 years caring for a rural community – she was the primary care provider for that community. But yet she can’t sign and certify a home health plan of care; she cobbles together physicians who know her and will support her to care for her patients. It literally takes an act of Congress to fix that problem, and we are so honored to have Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) as the leading Senator from Maine sponsoring that critical legislation, and we want to thank her for her outstanding leadership supporting every Maine citizen and every citizen in this country to receive home care and hospice services.”
To view the final study, click here.
Video footage of the press conference is currently available on the NAHC website (www.nahc.org).