Penn Highlands Clearfield Home Health celebrates anniversary

November 13, 2014


     A home care service that started in 1969 with three nurses and a secretary has grown into a multi-county agency with 50 employees.             
     Penn Highlands Clearfield Home Health is celebrating 45 years of providing care to patients in their homes.
     “We are proud to have provided quality home health care for 45 years. We started small, but it didn’t take long for us to flourish. I’m sure the reason for our success is our reputation for providing excellent care,” stated Karen Warfield, RN, home care director.     
     The hospital’s home health service was the brainchild of then Chief Executive Officer Harold VonGunden and the hospital’s board of directors. They felt the service was needed because patients weren’t staying in the hospital as long as they used to and required continued nursing care after they went home.
     The hospital turned to two instructors from the hospital’s School of Nursing, Margaret Gates and Betty Quinn, to set up a home health service. Gates and Quinn traveled to other home agencies to learn how they operated. 
     After establishing how the service would be operated, they settled into their first office, a sun porch in the Lee Wing of the hospital. Joining them was secretary Nancy Stewart and nurse Irene Wisor. The three nurses visited patients across the region, traveling as far as Mahaffey, Coalport, Rockton and Philipsburg.
     “The patients have a great respect for the nurses, therapists and aides who come into their homes to take care of them. You get a different kind of care in your own home. It is very individualized. I’m not surprised how successful our home health has become,” Warfield said.
     Today, Penn Highlands Clearfield Home Health provides care in Clearfield County, and parts of Cambria, Jefferson, Indiana and Centre counties. The staff is made up of experienced registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, social workers, secretaries and home health aides. They made more than 42,000 home care visits last year.
    Services provided are nursing; physical, occupational and speech therapies; aide and social worker services; specialized wound care; IV therapy; palliative care and hospice care. 
     In addition, the agency provides these specialty services: Healthy Beginnings Plus visits to new moms and babies, lymphedema therapy and dementia education for caregivers.
     The agency was one of the first in Pennsylvania to offer remote telehealth monitoring for patients at risk for readmission to the hospital. A remote patient monitor, which is placed in the patient’s home and is linked to the main home health office, keeps track of the patient’s vital signs between visits. This information is reviewed daily by a nurse who contacts the patient and his or her doctor if readings are not normal. 
     “One of our outcomes that is reported to Medicare is our acute care hospitalization rate. Avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations improves the quality of life for our patients. By utilizing evidence-based best practices, our agency now ranks below state and national benchmarks for preventing hospitalizations. I invite anyone interested in learning more about our outcome measures to log on to www.medicare.gov,” Warfield said.
    She added, “Our agency believes that providing care in the home setting is cost effective and efficient, as well as being a valuable service to the community. Our nurses have a lasting impact on the patients they serve. Patient satisfaction scores are also above state and national benchmarks and comments are very positive.” 
    For more information, please contact Warfield at (814) 768-2026.