Spokane Journal of Business

Family Home Care seeks OK to offer hospice

Company applies to state to provide hospice service within Spokane County

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Family Home Care Corp., a Spokane Valley-based home health-care provider, is seeking approval from Washington state to provide hospice care in Spokane County.

Michael Nowling, Family Home Cares president and CEO, says that adding such services would be a natural extension of the home care it already provides. Family Home Care currently offers in-home health care ranging from light housekeeping to meal preparation to skilled nursing services.

The company has applied to the Washington state Department of Health for a certificate of need to provide hospice care here because Spokane County has continued to enjoy steady growth, the market is developing, and, as we know, aging, Nowling says.

Unfortunately as many of our patients continue to progress in their age (or illness), there comes a point where they become eligible for hospice care, he says. Right now theyre forced to leave the nurse or caregivers theyve been working with.

Currently, only Hospice of Spokane and Spokanes Horizon Hospice are licensed to provide hospice care here.

Family Home Cares certificate of need application says that 70 terminally ill patients to whom it had been providing home care had to be referred to another agency for hospice care last year.

Terminally ill patients who have chosen hospice do not necessarily want to change health-care professionals, it says.

There is a danger, Nowling asserts, that some patients would opt out of accepting hospice care so they could continue working with medical personnel with whom they are familiar. We think its an opportunity for us to avoid placing our patients in that position, he says.

If a certificate of need is granted, Family Home Care projects that it will be providing hospice care to about 40 patients a day within three years. It estimates that it initially would employ three full-time equivalent hospice workers, the application says. It also would launch a volunteer program, as the state requires. Other services would include dietary counseling, bereavement counseling, respite care, and physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

The state Department of Health currently is accepting public comment on Family Home Cares application, and a hearing likely will be held later this month, Nowling says.

Family Home Care currently employs about 240 people and has more than 1,000 clients in Spokane and Kootenai counties, he says.

Last year, the company bought Colfax-based Whitman Home Health & Hospice, which provides home health care as well as hospice care.

Nowling, who previously was president of the Heart Institute of Spokane, bought Family Home Care from Empire Health Services in 2001.

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