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Millions of miles traveled for home health care

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By Sarah Baldwin - bio | email

August 6, 2008

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - Five billion miles of driving. The figure from the national study by the Association for Homecare sparked interest at Archbold's Hospital's own homecare service.  "We were surprised by the study and did our own and Archbold, with 2 home health agencies and hospice, we do about 1.3 million miles a year in 15 counties in southwest Georgia," said Clay Campbell, President of Archbold Health Services.

In fact, just about anywhere you go in their 15 county coverage area, it's likely you'll see the unmistakable color of one of the many cars from their fleet.   "We do drive a lot of miles," said Registered Nurse and homecare worker, Wendy Luke.

Campbell added, "Gas prices are a part of what we deal with everyday. We've watched them go up. We're about 20% higher on our budget for gas this year."   With increasing costs, why is it so important to deliver health care in the home?

Take a couple like Howell and Joyce Tucker.  "This is actually the second time using home health care," said Joyce.  After complications with back surgery, Mr. Tucker had to be seen everyday for 6 weeks. Now, after recently hurting his hand, they turned to homecare again.  "My husband doesn't get around that easy with walking and things. It helps me from going around everyday, wherever to get it dressed. So it saves both of us."

"Someone who's bed-bound certainly could not get to the hospital easily, a lot of people really do not have transportation," explained Luke.  That's why home health care workers say its so important they continue their service, despite the cost to them.

But, Campbell said, "What we're looking at is trying to be more efficient, i.e. scheduling patients closer together, doing longer visits when we can, doing more things in the visit." Because they'd drive to the ends of the earth, to make sure their patient gets the best care possible.

The national study revealed 44% of home health service providers in rural areas reported losing money last year due to the high cost of gas.

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