Dare commissioners hear update on hospice program, take action on health matters

Published 6:16 am Thursday, March 17, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Adoration Hospice representatives delivered a report to the Dare County Board of Commissioners on March 7.

Six months ago, the county sold its home health and hospice service to BrightSpring, which now operates the two services under the name of Adoration Home Health and Hospice.

The hospice presentation by Joseph “Jody” Moore and Kevin McDaniel provided an update and explained an insurance problem that worried the commissioners.

Get the latest headlines sent to you

Seven Dare County employees transitioned to Adoration Hospice, said Moore. The second installment of a retention bonus of 10% of an employee’s salary was due at the six month mark of the sale. The first half of the bonus was paid at the signing.

A site survey was conducted Jan. 24, 2022 by Accreditation Company for Health Care Agencies. Adoration expects to receive accreditation by June. The Dare service was accredited prior to the sale.

While the company has been successful in hiring overall, Adoration has struggled to find a hospice community liaison, who helps educate the community, said Moore. The company wants to encourage folks to enter hospice earlier, as that makes for a better end-of-life experience, said Moore.

The home health operation now has 19 employees, including two staffers who share responsibility for both programs.

As to growth, BrightSpring would like to go to 130 patients over three years. Adoration is still looking for office space.

As to insurance companies, Moore apologized for misleading the board. The company could not extend contracts to private insurers until the final tie-in notice of ownership change is acknowledged by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That federal agency acknowledged the change Jan. 4, 2022.

Commissioner Rob Ross stated the delayed action resulted in a 100-day dark period.

Three insurance carriers are now contracted payers, including Medicare and Medicaid. Four contracts are pending, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield, which is the county’s carrier. Other pending insurers are UHC, Cigna and Humana.

The slide about contracted payers states the following: “We have admitted a patient without an approved payer source. We do not turn down for insurance.”

That statement on page 2 was what Ross wanted. “I don’t need anything more,” said Ross.

The hospice operation was not the only health-related item on the commissioners’ March 7 agenda.

A new program is starting for caregivers.

Dianne Denny is the program director for Caregivers’ Day Out. The program is offered Mondays from drop off between 9:30 a.m. and 10 and pickup at 1 p.m. The no cost program is offered at the Parks and Rec Center at 602 Mustian Street in Kill Devil Hills.

The start date is March 21, 2022. The program offers hands-on activities for seniors with dementia. Trained volunteers host the event and facilitate the activities.

The Day Out program provides time for caregivers apart from caring for a dementia patient.

The program is provided by the Outer Banks Dementia Friendly Coalition and the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services.

An application in necessary. To sign up or ask questions, call Denny at 252-489-9508 or email obxdfc@gmail.com.

This program differs from the GEM program, which features caregivers and dementia patients together for its program.

The commissioners amended the tobacco use policy. “Medicaid prohibits the use of tobacco and/or tobacco products . . . on or around the facilities of any provider of services who bills Medicaid for said services.”

Health director Sheila Davies presented the item. The total campus ban on tobacco use applies only to the county’s three health department sites. The ordinance still retains a 50-foot buffer for a smoking area, such as the one at the Justice Center.

Language in the county’s dangerous or potentially dangerous dog ordinance was amended to take out reference to animal and substitute dog.

County manager and attorney Robert L. Outten told the commissioners the problem is that the state statue doesn’t fit or work very well. The state’s law offers few enforcement powers and doesn’t allow discretion on the part of the appeals panel, which, under one amendment, can now “approve, revoke or revise the level of danger as determined by the Health Director.”

Another amendment addresses what happens if an owner is non-compliant with restrictions. The health director now has “authority to instruct the owner to surrender the dog to Animal Control for adoption, placement in a dog refuge or disposition in accordance with Dare County Animal Control Policies and Procedures.”