The Times republication of an Albany Times Union report, Problems emerging in state home care (July 9), is rampant with generalizations and inaccuracies about state oversight of home health care in New York.
New Yorks home care community is committed to the delivery of quality care to patients who are among our most vulnerable citizens. Front-line home care providers meet this duty, often heroically, in service to an increasingly high-need, clinically complex patient population that, in many cases, would otherwise require institutionalization.
To say that nurses often failed to adequately coordinate care for patients is a gross generalization and an affront to all of the dedicated professionals who save lives every day and deliver sophisticated care management to patients at home. To say that home care providers frequently operate with less oversight than other sectors is directly refuted by state home care survey regulations and protocols.
In fact, home care is subject to many rigorous state and federal quality regulations governing the management and operation of agencies further bolstered by accreditation standards and best practices developed at the agency level which help save lives, reduce hospitalizations and improve health outcomes.
Had HCA or any provider agencies been given a chance to respond to this articles assertions before they went to print, we would have mentioned that the state Department of Healths home-care agency survey process includes routine, unannounced and often multi-day site visits, where state surveyors: interview home care agency staff; examine patient care plans; accompany clinicians on home visits to see the delivery of care firsthand; and reconcile internal agency complaint logs with the states own incident reports; among countless other measures to ensure the safety of patients and the quality of care.
Quality assurance is of utmost priority. Providers and state health officials must do everything possible to get to the bottom of serious incidents when and where they occur.
However, it is an extreme public disservice to make false generalizations that do not recognize the countless instances where home care clinicians and home health aides have followed protocols, preventing patients from being hospitalized, reporting potential adverse medication side effects to a patients physician, ensuring a safe living environment for patients and keeping patients out of institutions.
The writer is president of Home Care Association of New York State.