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Celebrating two decades of securing independence, dignity

November 30, 2010

Pioneer Home Health has been serving Inyo and Mono counties for more than two decades. Pioneer helps the ill, frail and elderly to stay in their homes, avoiding impersonal and expensive institutionalization. Photo courtesy

A local not-for-profit that has been helping the ill, frail and elderly to stay in their homes is turning 20 years old this week and the community is invited to help celebrate.
Pioneer Home Health Care is hosting a 20th Anniversary Gala from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday at its office at 162 E. Line St., Bishop.
The public is invited to attend.
Pioneer Home Health Care has been serving Inyo and Mono counties for two decades, its staff caring for more than 7,000 patients, performing 88,000 home visits and driving more than 1.3 million miles during that time. The not-for-profit has also been recognized as one of the top 500 home care agencies in the country by Home Care Elite. And Pioneer will continue to carry on in spite of lower Medicare reimbursements and increased regulations.
“Our goal is to be here for the long haul,” said Pat West, owner and founder of Pioneer.
Pioneer has a core program, plus two additional, customized programs and is now delving into the technology age with telemedicine. Pioneer is also looking to the future where the need for home health care is expected to skyrocket with the aging baby boomer population.
The mission of the not-for-profit institution is to offer compassionate and professional care for patients who can safely stay at home and to empower patients and caregivers with the skills and resources to safely stay independent and at home.
West said the operative word is “home.” She said people simply want to stay in their homes when they are ill. “Home is where the heart is. People like being in their own castle and feeling safe.”
West added that staying at home not only costs less than being institutionalized, “but people get better quicker at home.”
West said Pioneer strives to offer that “personal touch” to caring that is a key factor to all three of its programs.
The first, or core program, has been the mainstay of Pioneer since its inception. This program offers intermittent care provided by skilled and certified staff who work directly with the physician in coordinating what kind and means of care. The core program offers physical and occupational therapists as well as ancillary services and moral support for both caregivers and patients.
The second program is one that the community asked Pioneer to provide. West said about 10 years ago, Pioneer was asked if it could offer personal, hourly attendant care. West explained some patients request just two hours a week while some ask for 24-hour care.
The third program, just a few years old, is called Senior Care Management, administered by a certified geriatric care manager. West said this program acts as a surrogate family for local patients who may not have any local family support. She said a patient, be they elderly or recovering from major surgery, may not have the ability or energy to assess basic home needs, such as a leaky faucet that needs repair. West said this program provides a professional to assess a home to ensure it is safe if friends or family are not available. “We see that things get done,” West said.
West and Pioneer want to see that “things get done” in the future by encouraging employees to seek full nursing certifications. “We need good, qualified health care providers for the next generation.”
There will soon be a major influx of elderly people needing care as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age.
According the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 30 percent of the population are baby boomers and are now reaching retirement age. And, the Census is reporting that life expectancy is projected to increase from 76.0 years in 1993 to 82.6 years in 2050.

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