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Local healthcare providers react to virus

By: NANCY DUPLECHAIN
Associate Editor

As the world tries to settle into a hopefully temporary new way of life, essential workers are on the front lines trying their best to keep business as usual. Among those in the fore-front are health care workers. Hospitals across the country are struggling with overload. Meanwhile, the sprawling sector of home health care finds its aides, nurses, hospice attendants, and physical and occupational therapists trying their hardest to keep themselves and their patients safe amid the new reality of COVID-19.
According to the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, at least 12 million people depend on home health services every year in the U.S. The challenges of home health have been largely overlooked as health care workers try to keep from spreading the virus to patients in their homes. Many of these patients are older and are coping with disabilities that make them particularly vulnerable to catching coronavirus.
Betsy Fontenot, Clinical Director with Ville Platte Home Health Agency, said, “Our number one priority is the health and well-being of our employees and patients in the communities we serve in the Ville Platte area.”
A spokesperson for LHC Group, Inc., the parent company of Ville Platte Home Health Agency, released the following statement: “As one of the nation’s leading providers of in-home healthcare, LHC Group’s responsibility is to safeguard the health of our workforce, our patients, and the communities we serve across the country. We are following the guidance of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and working closely with our local agency leadership teams to implement the current best practices in helping to provide a unified front against COVID-19.”
LHC Group’s representative went on to say their home healthcare providers have dealt with infectious diseases as part of their everyday duties for more than two decades. Also, prior to the start of any patient visits, all LHC Group clinicians and employees complete a mandatory pre-screening procedure every day.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice also has guidelines for keeping workers and patients safe. They do not recommend cloth masks unless a one-time-use filter can be placed inside. They suggest a vacuum cleaner filter that can be cut to the size of the homemade mask. Services may be provided via telehealth, whereas Medicare will temporarily pay practitioners to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries residing across the entire country. They also say home health and hospice will not test patients for COVID-19, but they may be able to collect specimens, as long as they are trained to do so. More information can be found on www.NAHC.org.

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