New providers for home health care in the San Juans

Home health care in the San Juan Islands is changing hands from Island Hospital to Glacier Peak Healthcare, Inc.

Island Hospital Home Health, which has served as a provider of continuum of care for San Juan and Skagit Counties, was sold to Glacier Peak in early August, with the agency taking over services on Aug. 16. Home health services include physical therapy, occupational therapy and other medical treatments done for patients in the comfort of their own house. Clients are the elderly, post-surgical patients and people with long-term illnesses. The company will operate under the name Island Home Health and is based in Anacortes.

“We sought a partner that would offer state-of-the-art industry knowledge and patient-care experience that would meet the standard of care provided by Island Hospital,” said Island Hospital CEO Vince Oliver. “We believe that Glacier Peak is an excellent partner to maintain high-quality home-health services for the communities we serve.”

Though Island Hospital will in no way be involved in the operation of new agency, Oliver considers it a partnership because people will experience smooth transition from being a patient of the hospital to Islands Home Health.

Glacier Peak is an affiliate agency of Cornerstone Healthcare of Idaho, which is an affiliate of The Ensign Group of California.

“We are grateful to continue the legacy of high-quality, patient-centered care established by Island Hospital Home Health. We are committed to our mission of providing life-changing service to our patients and their families,” said Glacier Peak Executive Director Patricia Seagle-Santander, RN, BSN, COS-C. “We will passionately pursue that mission in Skagit and San Juan Counties and look forward to establishing ourselves as the provider of choice in the area.”

In July, Island Hospital was in talks with Canyon Home Care and Hospice of Utah to purchase the home health agency. However, Canyon backed out of the purchase just before it was finalized.

Islander David Kahle was an employee of Island Hospital Home Health since 2005. In July, he was laid-off from his job as a physical therapist, he said, as the company prepared for the sale to Canyon. When that sale fell through, Kahle was said he was concerned about the future of home health care in the islands.

“What became evident during this process was that this agency (Canyon), in the process of purchasing home health, appeared to have no idea of what it means to serve the islands while using our ferry system,” said Kahle. “This change is likely to be a major setback for our health care continuum in the islands … Also home health is often involved to meet pre-hospice end of life needs — so that we islanders can choose to remain in our own homes and with our families.”

Seagle-Santander is optimistic about the future of the company’s home health operations in the San Juan Islands. She said that Island Home Health is actively seeking island residents to fill positions needed to maintain home health operations in the islands.

“The goal of our organization is to provide life-changing services to the people and the communities that we’re entrust in care in,” said Seagle-Santander. “It’s essentially a matter of getting staff on board that allows us to provide that mission.”