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Mountain Home Health Care: Celebrating 45 years of putting people first

By Mandy Sotelo
Posted 2/13/20

In defiance of the corporate mentality becoming more and more prevalent in health care, one local nonprofit has made prioritizing people its mission.

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SPONSORED CONTENT

Mountain Home Health Care: Celebrating 45 years of putting people first

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In defiance of the corporate mentality becoming more and more prevalent in health care, one local nonprofit has made prioritizing people its mission.

With 45 years behind them of unwavering patient care in the face of ever-changing regulatory and funding pressures, Mountain Home Health Care and Hospice has proven this to be a winning strategy.

According to Director of Business Development Jacob Crisp, Mountain Home Health Care is essentially owned and operated by the people of this community. Its board of directors, which consists entirely of community members, is determined to keep it that way for the next 45 years.

“We’re more people-centered than dollar-centered,” Crisp said.

Mountain Home Health Care provides nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, medical social services, home health aide services and personal care attendant services to Taos-area residents, including outreach to Colfax County, all on the resources of a nonprofit organization.

It’s an endless challenge in a field whose funding relies heavily on entities such as Medicare, with its predictably unpredictable reimbursement policies.

CEO Laurie Cochrane said the National Association of Homecare and Hospice predicts that 32 of the 64 home care agencies in New Mexico will close in the first half of 2020 due to the most recent changes to Medicare reimbursement. According to Cochrane, Mountain Home Health Care will not be among them as long as the Taos area continues its long-standing tradition of community-mindedness.

Thanks to the support of community members, Mountain Home Health Care has been able to fulfill its mission of providing much-needed care through periods of limited or even discontinued government funding.

“If a patient needs the care, we’re going to see them,” said Cochrane.


Home health and hospice are the two main branches of the agency, with the full range of skilled nursing, physical and occupational therapy, and social services involved. Personal care for veterans, private duty personal care, and Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) for youth and children are also among the services they provide.


While the agency accepts all insurance types, not everything is covered by insurance.

With a caring staff and board of directors committed to making sure patients’ needs are met, Mountain Home Health Care does not skimp on the care it delivers. In Medicare’s Home Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, survey respondents rated the agency above the national and New Mexico averages in all areas, including care, communication, and professionalism. They were also recognized in 2019 by Taos Community Foundation with the Peak of Excellence award for their meaningful contribution to the people of the Taos area. Also in 2019, HomeCare Elite® recognized them as one of the top-performing home-health agencies in the United States.

Unfortunately, adjusting to changing reimbursement policies can lead to some difficult choices for a nonprofit.

Mountain Home Health Care’s Personal Care Options program was a recent casualty of Medicaid reimbursement policies. The agency simply did not have the resources on its own to pay a living wage to the aides providing those services. It was with regret that this one program had to be discontinued in order to maintain financial sustainability without abandoning the nonprofit model, and with it, the people-oriented focus.

“Quality and people are the priorities,” said Cochrane.

For that reason, Mountain Home Health Care is looking to the next 45 years with a fresh focus on how the community can help support its only local nonprofit home-health agency. There are a number of ways to donate.

“We’ve had people donate cars, property, or stock,” said Crisp. “You can donate through TCF Bank, or you can mail in or drop off a check to our office.”

Every little bit counts, and no contribution is too small. The carefully maintained reserves that help sustain the agency through difficult funding and policy changes are continuously built up with small personal checks from people whose lives have been touched by Mountain Home Health Care and its team of caring professionals.

 

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