South Florida Hospital News
Friday August 23, 2019
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October 2008 - Volume 5 - Issue 4

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Catholic Health Services Responds to Challenges of Eldercare with New Programs and Services

As a leading provider of eldercare, Catholic Health Services (CHS) is committed to excellent quality and service. In today’s climate, delivering on that commitment presents new challenges, as the industry undergoes changes both social and economic.

"The population we serve is not only climbing in numbers, but also has health problems and chronic conditions of increasing complexity," says Maria A. Miranda, vice president of public relations at CHS. Patients and families are more informed and more involved in their health care as well, Miranda notes. "People are better educated about issues of insurance, quality, and patients’ rights," she says, "and when it comes to selecting a facility for their care, they shop for high-tech services and amenities, and highly skilled professionals."

CHS is well-positioned and well-prepared to meet these consumer needs and expectations. Its three medical campuses, located in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, offer a number of signature services, including indoor, state-of-the-art aquatic centers with temperature-controlled pools for therapeutic exercise. Another cutting-edge service is CHS’s residency program for physical therapists specializing in geriatrics. The first in the country, CHS now employs the nation’s highest number of geriatric-certified specialists. The residency program, a partnership with the University of Miami School of Medicine, features year-long clinical rotations at CHS’s St. Catherine’s Rehabilitation Hospital, which provides both inpatient and outpatient services, and the Villa Maria Nursing Center, a skilled nursing facility for extended and long-term care. Residents earn board certification in geriatric physical therapy, plus credit toward a doctorate in physical therapy at the University of Miami, making it a truly unique program, says Miranda.


Ray Robinson, Long Term Care Patient with Renee Walker, R.N., at Villa Maria Nursing Center located in North Miami Beach

CHS is exploring creative programs to help ease the current nursing shortage as well. "Many well-trained, qualified nurses are nearing retirement, and not enough young people are choosing nursing as a career path," says Miranda. "Yet, the need for good nurses is rising." To address this, CHS is looking at educational initiatives and other incentives to attract outstanding candidates to the field.

Trying to fulfill patients’ wants and needs, while operating within a highly regulated environment, poses a tremendous financial challenge for all eldercare providers, including CHS. On the regulatory side, nursing homes face added expenses from two fronts: the present mandate for higher staff-to-patient ratios, and the upcoming requirement that they transition from a medical model to a social model. Consumer demand for non-reimbursable services – everything from complementary therapies to dining options and wi-fi availability – is also driving up costs. At the same time, funding, even for necessities, is falling. Medicaid recently cut back coverage, or eliminated it altogether, on dental and vision care, patient transportation, and even some medications, leaving CHS underfunded by approximately $12 per patient per day. Last year alone, CHS subsidized shortfalls from Medicaid by more than $750,000.


Helene Weissner, Aquatic Therapy Patient with Gemma Longfellow, Physical Therapist at St. Catherine’s Rehabilitation Hospital located in North Miami Beach

"This combination of high regulation, coupled with a customer focus on nonreimbursable services, comes at a time when nursing homes across Florida are exposed to a $168 million reduction in revenue and ongoing litigation," says Tony Farinella, executive director of CHS’s St. Anne’s Nursing Center. "Our state must take the lead in collaborating on projects with key stakeholders, so that we can continue to provide exceptional care, and at the same time, meet consumers’ expectations."

Despite the present challenges, CHS continues to fulfill its mission to bring outstanding services to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. It also continues to expand its reach within South Florida: this fall, CHS will open its fourth facility, St. Catherine’s West Rehabilitation Hospital, in Hialeah Gardens. "St. Catherine’s West places us in a new market with great potential for growth," says Miranda. "We’re extremely pleased and proud to be the first acute rehabilitation hospital to serve that community."

Catholic Health Services (CHS), a not-for-profit organization, is the largest, post-acute healthcare system in the southeast United States. In South Florida, CHS operates 26 facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Together, these facilities serve some 6,000 patients and residents a day, delivering a continuum of care through medical rehabilitation, home health services, skilled and long-term care, and assisted living.

For more information on Catholic Health Services, contact Maria A. Miranda, vice president of public relations, at mmiranda@chsfla.com, or visit CHS’s website at www.catholichealthservices.org.
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