VNA of Rhode Island patients, staff can transfer to other agency after closure

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The agency accepting 250 patients from VNA of Rhode Island aims to reunite them with their clinicians when VNA closes, a spokesperson said Thursday.

Leah Eden, a spokesperson for VNA of Rhode Island, said Visiting Nurse Home and Hospice has agreed to take all patients and hire most of the staff when VNA closes.

VNA will close by Dec. 20. The home care agency is shutting down because of financial constraints.

“It’s been over a period of years,” Eden said in an interview with Eyewitness News.

She said Medicare reimbursement rates and the increased decision by patients to move to private, managed care insurance products have led to the finance troubles.

Plus, she said, elderly home care patients have inherently costly needs including frequent hospitalizations.

“It takes a lot to take care of them,” Eden said. “That has a financial burden on everybody, and we’re just at the point where we’re not able to do that.”

While the financial pressures are not unique to VNA, Eden said Visiting Nurse Home and Hospice care is currently on strong financial footing. She said the agency, which currently services Aquidneck Island, Bristol County, R.I. and Bristol County, Mass., will expand to cover the rest of Rhode Island. The Portsmouth-based agency is also planning on opening another branch off the island in order to be closer to patients and employees in Northern Rhode Island.

Employees have already been offered the chance to apply to Visiting Nurse Home and Hospice, and the agency plans to hire the majority of them and keep them with their same patients.

“That’s the goal, is for there not to be an interruption in service,” Eden said. “And the patients still have the same nurse that they’ve had, or the same therapist that they’ve had.”

VNA is not the first home care facility to shutter this year. Homefront Health Care, a nonprofit Medicaid provider, announced it would close in August after filing for bankruptcy.

Eden disputed an statement from Nicholas Oliver, the executive director of the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care, who compared VNA’s closure to Homefront Health Care’s closure.

“The loss of VNA of Rhode Island as a provider within our industry is the latest example of a series of unfortunate home care closures in which Governor Raimondo and the General Assembly have not remedied,” Oliver said Wednesday.

But Eden said VNA only has three Medicaid patients, so their financial burdens were not caused by the Medicaid reimbursement rates controlled by the state.

“The closure has been prompted due to increased financial constraints and is not as a result of state cuts to Medicaid reimbursements that was eluded to in the statement by Nicholas Oliver,” Eden wrote in an updated statement Thursday.

The Department of Health said they would be helping VNA patients make a seamless transition.

“We were saddened to learn about this news, but we are doing everything we can to minimize the impact on patients,” DOH spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said.