Samaritan Health Services will discontinue its home health services in Lincoln, South Tillamook, Benton and Linn counties in early March, transitioning current patients to Signature Healthcare at Home, a Wilsonville-based home health agency, unless they choose a different home health provider.
Samaritan will, however, continue to provide hospice services in Lincoln County. Currently, both hospice and home health care are offered by the same staff. This will change on March 1, when Albany-based Samaritan Evergreen Hospice will expand to include Lincoln County. Samaritan Evergreen will have a physical office in Newport.
“We felt it was important to continue providing Hospice services locally, in part because of the generous support local residents have given to our hospice program for many years,” said Lesley Ogden, MD, CEO of Samaritan Pacific Communities and Samaritan North Lincoln hospitals.
Samaritan President/CEO Doug Boysen outlined several reasons for the decision to discontinue its home health service.“We are seeing a steady decline in reimbursement,” Boysen said. “It is also a challenge to recruit and retain the specialized workforce needed. In addition, the size and scope of our three-county service area requires significant staff travel time and prevents us from leveraging economies of scale. The result of all these factors is annual financial losses over multiple years, with no indication that the situation will improve.”
Home health workers provide in-home nursing and various therapy services for home-bound patients. Samaritan is currently the primary provider of home health services for Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties. Representatives from Samaritan and Signature said the provision of home health services should continue uninterrupted during the transition.
Boysen said the region will benefit from the expertise provided by Signature, which is part of Avamere Health Services.
“Signature is a recognized, high-quality provider specializing in home health, home care and hospice services,” Boysen said. “We are confident that our communities will continue to be well served by Signature.”
Mary Kofstad, President of Signature Healthcare at Home, said the agency’s experience in working throughout the state will help to facilitate a smooth transition into the region.
“Our goal is to retain many of the current home health employees, to ensure continuity of care for patients with the professionals they know,” Kofstad said. “In addition, we believe we can build upon our expertise in operating these programs to ensure continued high-quality services and outcomes.”
Samaritan employees, as well as current patients and local physicians, impacted by this change were notified last week. Employees may apply for new positions offered by Signature, or for other positions within Samaritan for which they qualify. Employees leaving Samaritan after the transition will receive severance pay and can purchase Samaritan’s health insurance for the next 18 months.