Ellis to close Visiting Nurse Service of Northeastern NY due to low government reimbursement

PETER R. BARBER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHEREllis Hospital is shown in October.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

PETER R. BARBER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Ellis Hospital is shown in October.

SCHENECTADY — Ellis Medicine said Monday it is shutting down the Visiting Nurse Service of Northeastern New York.

Ellis said its wholly owned subsidiary has for years been unable to cover its expenses due to low government reimbursements.

Ellis on Monday did not provide any statistics on the VNS workforce, its patient tally, and the number of care visits it makes per year. A summary on the VNS website indicates 170 employees and nearly 100,000 visits in Saratoga and Schenectady counties but does not indicate what year that was.

VNS has developed a transition plan and will work with patients, their families, staff, physicians and other stakeholders to smoothly transition patients to other certified home health agencies over the next few weeks.

VNS employees will be offered help to transition to new jobs, and to seek employment at Ellis.

The Visiting Nurse Service provided services including certified home health and personal care, palliative care, telemedicine and managed long-term care in areas including Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie and Warren counties.

The VNS on its website says its roots trace to formation of the Public Health Nursing Service in Schenectady County in 1919, providing care to all but specializing in maternity cases. In the present day, it is based at the foot of Erie Boulevard in Schenectady

In Monday’s announcement, Leslyn Williamson — executive director of VNS and also chief operating officer/chief nursing officer of Ellis Medicine — said: “Over the years, despite extraordinary efforts, we were not able to find a sustainable model in an era of declining government reimbursements that don’t cover the true cost of care.”

The announcement said VNS has a transition plan in place to work with patients and families as it prepares to shut down.

Williamson said: “Another key goal is to honor the patient’s choice in where to transition their care and work with their families, physicians and other providers to ensure continuity of care, keeping patients in their homes. In the end, the broader home health community has come together to work with us on our goal that all care needs of our patients and families will be met with minimal disruption to quality care.”

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