For Kathy Arnold, visits from Marion County Home Care make the difference between holding her own against a worsening condition and being pulled downward.
“They’re very good, that’s all I can say,” Arnold said. “They know what they are doing.”
Arnold was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 36 years ago. The condition worsens over time.
Although no two patients are the same, common symptoms include fatigue, weakness, walking difficulty, pain, muscle stiffness, blurred vision, cognitive changes, dizziness, and emotional changes which can include depression.
“The debilitation of my muscles has finally gotten so I need help,” Arnold said.
She goes to St. Luke Hospital’s therapy department for water therapy.
On other days, a certified nursing assistant comes to Arnold’s home to assist with activities such as showering and grooming, dressing, and homemaking. Physical and occupational therapists also visit Arnold’s home to work with them.
“Usually when patients first get services, it’s because they’ve just been in the hospital or because they’ve had a fall at home,” said Lynn Schmidt, who came to Arnold’s home on Fridays to work with her.
Kathy’s husband, Don, also assists with his wife’s needs. The help she gets from Home Health lightens his load.
“Marion County Home Care is a very good organization,” Don said.
Peni Ens, director of Marion County Home Care, said when a patient is referred to the agency, the physician refers what the patient needs.
Ens said they might be referred for pain management, medication management, respiratory or heart disease maintenance, wound therapy, or a number of other health needs.
“A lot of times we know the people we’re taking care of,” Ens said. “We’re local, we’re here, a lot of times they have been in the hospital here, too.”
Some services are covered by Medicare or Medicaid. A physician’s order is required for Medicare coverage, which falls under Medicare Part A.
If service is not covered by Medicare, patients can get services by private pay agreement, Ens said.
Ens said about half the agency’s patients have a primary caregiver. Home Care not only takes care of patient needs, it gives respite for the caregiver.
Ens said the agency typically works with patients for two to eight weeks.
“It can be longer, too, if they haven’t met their goals yet,” Ens said. “Every time they go, they assess all the patient’s needs. If the nurse believes the patient needs more than the doctors order, they’ll contact them.”
Marion County Home Care has been in business since 1979.
“I do see our nurses and home health aides make a real difference every day,” Ens said.