Hospice merges with Catholic social services

Change aimed at reducing costs and sustaining programs

Posted: Friday, October 04, 2002

Hospice and Home Care of Juneau says it will merge with Catholic Community Service in an attempt to streamline services and cut costs.

The nonprofits recently voted to make HHCJ a separate division of CCS, according to a joint press release.

Rosemary Hagevig, executive director for CCS, said in an interview the two groups are completing plans for the merger, including how to handle funding and staffing for the agencies.

"It is our goal with the proposed merger to improve the financial stability and sustainability of all programs by accessing available funding sources in a more cost-effective manner," said Hagevig in a press release.

"Many nonprofit service providers are having to ask hard questions about what they might do with each other to achieve the costs savings that will make their program delivery more affordable for agencies."

Jill Sandlaben, programming director for HHCJ, said in an interview that the merger will allow the nonprofits to share funding sources and offer more services to their clients. She said the agencies are funded by Medicaid, Medicare, some private insurance, the United Way and grants from the city, state and federal governments.

Sandlaben said she hopes the merger also will allow the agencies to increase patient care staff while streamlining administrative staff. Hagevig said the entities hope to combine duplicate positions and see where employees can double-up on duties to save money.

CCS has two divisions: Child Care and Family Resources, and Southeast Senior Services.

HHCJ staff members often refer clients to senior services for the Meals-on-Wheels program, transportation, care coordination and adult day services, according to the release. Likewise, nursing, rehabilitation and hospice referrals are made to HHCJ by care coordinators with CCS, the release said.

The merger will consolidate these services, Hagevig said.

Sandlaben said with all the resources under the same roof, caregivers can coordinate what programs might best meet clients' needs.

"It'll really be one-stop-shopping for our patients," she said. "We're hoping that instead of having to call a list of numbers all over town to get service, you can call one number, give us your information and get your needs met with one phone call. We're hoping this just makes it less painful to get what you need."

Sandlaben said officials hope the merger also will help cut costs for patients.

Under the merger, case workers will be able to determine whether service should be provided by a home health care or hospice worker, or could be handled by a respite worker or volunteer. She said this should mean a saving for clients and families by cutting extraneous health care costs.

"We have remarkable care teams with Southeast Senior Services and Hospice and Home Care," Sandlaben said. "I think it's going to be really fun to put all these people in one room and really be able to use everybody's expertise. I'm just very excited."

Hospice will move to CCS offices in November, with the merger of services complete by Jan. 1.

Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.

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