FORT EDWARD — After hiring more than 20 people for its home care division in 2013, Fort Hudson Health System expects to hire another 20 to 25 for a major expansion of those services.
“Our home care program has grown extensively since it started in 2007,” said Andrew Cruikshank, Fort Hudson’s CEO. “We have every reason to believe we will continue this growth.”
The latest step for the company is the addition of the Fort Hudson Certified Home Health Agency (CHHA), which provides short-term home care following acute illness.
This is a step beyond Fort Hudson’s previous programs and will allow registered nurses, social workers and physical therapists to provide care in patients’ homes.
Paul Scimeca, senior vice president for strategic planning and business development at Glens Falls Hospital, said there was some concern locally when Washington County said it was going to sell its health-care divisions, including home care.
“We were thrilled when Fort Hudson said they were interested in a CHHA,” Scimeca said Tuesday. “They are well-positioned for the community. They know the county, and they have had other programs going in the past.
“We are extraordinarily supportive of Fort Hudson in this. We’ve got a good relationship with them,” he added.
“This is a very good thing. The longer we can keep people in their homes, the better it is,” said state Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury. “It’s a very good arrangement. It’s another extension in their continuum of care, and it’s good for the area.”
Little said one of Fort Hudson’s strengths is that it offers so many programs.
“They really run the gamut how we can work with the aging population and help them with their health-care needs,” Little said.
“It is something we have been wanting to do for a long time, but the state had a moratorium on new programs of this type,” Cruikshank said. “They lifted the moratorium two years ago, and we have been working toward this since then.”
During the moratorium, the only way to run a CHHA was to purchase an existing program. At one point, Fort Hudson considered buying a home health agency run by Washington County, but that was sold to another firm.
Cruikshank said Fort Hudson completed $75,000 in renovations to add office space for the new program and has hired four full-time and 15 per diem employees. He said he expects the per diem positions to become full-time and predicts additional hiring.
Cruikshank said Fort Hudson has been going through a series of steps to get state certification of the program. The CHHA started seeing its first patients Thursday.
“There are a lot of steps we have had to take to get to this point,” he said. “We are hitting the ground running.”
He said he expects to have 10 patients in the program shortly.
“At that point, the state will come in and do the federal survey,” he said. “That’s the final step; then we can really get going.”
Prior to adding the home health agency, Fort Hudson established a licensed home care service agency (LHSCA), which provides care to those eligible for Medicaid, including traumatic brain injury patients. The corporation also operates two adult day care programs and provided 170,000 hours of in-home care in 2013.
The LHSCA uses mainly personal-care aides or home-health aides and focuses on chronic issues, sometimes for long-term care. The care can be a few hours per day or around the clock.
Fort Hudson is comprised of seven corporate structures and employs 460, including 150 in its home care division.