Barnabas Health, New Jersey's largest hospital system, and the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group have decided to partner on their journey toward a major health care reform destination: keeping patients healthy at home so they'll spend less time in hospitals and other health care facilities.
Barnabas Health Home Care and Hospice and the VNA Health Group said the goal of their partnership is “improving the quality and efficiency of post‐acute care, home care and hospice in the communities they serve.”
Barry H. Ostrowsky, chief executive of Barnabas Health, said, “Hospitals and home care providers must find new ways to collaborate and coordinate care to provide a more seamless patient experience, reduce unnecessary rehospitalizations, and improve health outcomes for the patients and populations we serve. This partnership will position our organizations to meet these emerging challenges, while maintaining focus on delivering the highest quality post‐acute services.”
Dr. Steven H. Landers, chief executive of VNA Health Group, said the partnership with Barnabas, which he expects to become final in six to 12 months, will be similar to VNA’s existing hospital joint ventures with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Englewood Hospital and Medical Center and Cape Regional Medical Center.
“This partnership with Barnabas Health is an opportunity to grow as an independent community agency while closely collaborating with a leading health system,” Landers said.
Keith L. Boroch, chief executive of Barnabas Health Home Care and Hospice, said Barnabas had been exploring various strategies for expanding its home care services. He said Medicare and commercial health plans want hospitals to “move toward providing much more of a link to home and community-based care models, to reduce (hospital) readmissions and to improve quality of care.”
One strategy could have been for Barnabas to grow its home care operations, in part via acquisitions, Boroch said.
“But as we started looking at this, we looked at the potential for partnering with a high-quality organization that had a great reputation and that shared the value system of Barnabas Health — and the VNA fit that model.”
He said partnering with VNA will help Barnabas provide patients the care they need to transition back home following acute and post-acute care. And it also positions Barnabas for a future in which the focus is on population health management, with health care systems taking responsibility for keeping people healthy. And this involves “helping people to be able to stay in their homes as they are either recovering from or are dealing with chronic illnesses, to be able to serve them in a much more focused, cost-effective manner in the comfort of their own homes — which is where people prefer to be.”
Boroch said Barnabas Health currently has about 600 employees in its home care and hospice unit, provides home care to an average of 1,700 people daily and provides hospice care to about 400 people.
Landers said VNA will continue to provide home care services on its own, as well as co-managing home care services with its joint venture partners.
VNA Health Group provides home care to about 7,000 patients daily, and provides palliative and hospice care to more than 1,500 patients.
Landers said, “We’re in an era where home and community care is growing in importance and where hospitals and physicians are more and more responsible for outcomes outside of the hospital.”
He said the partnership with Barnabas “is an exciting development to position our organizations to succeed and to make a difference in that new reality.”
Boroch said, “If you look at patients that are discharged (from hospitals) and the readmission rates of those patients, home care has better outcomes in reducing readmissions than other services.”
Right now, the two organizations have strengths in certain areas of the state; through the partnership “the patchwork that currently exists will be much more unified,” Landers said.
Barnabas provides home health and hospice services in Essex, Monmouth, and Ocean counties, while VNA Health Group independently provides home care and hospice services through the Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey in Monmouth, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson and Burlington counties. The partnership will align the two organizations’ services in these areas.
They will operate together but continue to use their current names: Barnabas Health Home Care and Hospice in northern New Jersey, primarily Essex and Hudson counties, and VNA of Central Jersey from Middlesex to the southern region of the state.
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