Q & A with Jane Shukitis

CEO discusses the scope of services provided by her agency, of UR Medicine Home Care, including end-of-life services, home care, Meals on Wheels and coaching low-income moms-to-be

By Mike Costanza

Shukitis
Shukitis

UR Medicine Home Care provides a host of services, from helping surgical patients recover at home to comforting those in their last weeks of life. The 750 nurses, home health aides, social workers and other employees on its payroll work with patients who live as far as Yates and Seneca counties. President and CEO Jane Shukitis spoke to In Good Health about UR Medicine Home Care, the benefits it provides and the kinds of people who turn to it for health care.

Q. UR Medicine Home Care has been around in some form for quite a while. How far back can we trace its roots?

A. We began during the 1919 pandemic as the Public Health Nurses Association. For 101 years, we’ve had the same core mission of providing outstanding care to people in their homes. We currently have a very broad range of programs that we provide to support people in their homes.

Q. The largest of your programs, the certified home care agency, tends to the needs of about 12,000 patients each year. What kinds of patients does it serve?

A. The patients are mostly coming out of the hospital, and need post-acute interventions in their homes to help them recover and get back fully to their baseline of health. Our services include nursing care, oftentimes for things like wound, post heart-attack or post-surgical care, or managing their diabetes. All the therapies — physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy — are also provided to get people fully ambulatory and functional again. We also have certified home health aides who can provide a couple hours a few times a week to help people with their daily activities of life, things like bathing and dressing.

Q. What other kinds of services does the agency provide?

A. We do home infusions, which are intravenous therapies. People who would otherwise have to go to clinics for chemotherapy, or whatever their medical condition is, we bring those services to their homes. In addition, social workers help people who might need assistance with some of the issues that impact their ability to recover. It might be financial, insurance issues—those kinds of things.

Q. What is your health home program?

A. It’s for people who have chronic issues around mental health or substance abuse, who often are low-income and kind of living on the margins of life. We help with such social determinants as housing, transportation and food support so they can take care of their health needs. It’s very similar to intensive care management. Over 50% of our care managers are Spanish bilingual. We do a lot of work with the Latino population and the Hispanic population in our community, who often tend to be left out because they have a language barrier.

Q. You also offer the nurse-family partnership program. Could you tell me about that?

A. A nurse is partnered with a first-time, low-income mom to coach and support her throughout her pregnancy, and up until the child is 2 years old. The positive outcomes for this program are in improved health for the infant, as well as education and job improvement for the mom. These children grow up at a much greater rate of high school graduation because they get a healthy, supportive start at life. UR Medicine Home Care provides the nursing staff, in partnership with Monroe County.

Q. About 2,000 people in Monroe, Ontario and Yates counties turn to your hospice program each year. What kind of care does it provide?

A. Hospice is a holistic program that supports people at the end of life and their families. It’s about living with quality until the end. It’s not about dying. We try to help people have the best quality of life for their final days, and keep them out of pain, making sure that their pain is managed. The program includes medical physician oversight and nursing. It also includes social work support for helping people with their end-of-life needs and getting their affairs in order, as needed. There’s spiritual support with chaplains if people want it. Our length of stay is typically only a month or four to five weeks.

Q. How extensive is your Meals on Wheels program?

A. We’re delivering over 1,400 meals every day to people of our community who have food and nutrition challenges because of being elderly or homebound. Beyond offering meals, it also provides a friendly check-in every day to make sure the person is OK. For many people, the volunteer is the only person they see all day. The program only serves Monroe County.

For more information on UR Medicine Home Care and its services, go to: www.urmc.rochester.edu/home-care.aspx