Celebrating 40 years of NCHH&H

Nemaha County Home Health and Hospice — instituted in 1979 as Nemaha County Home Health — is celebrating 40 years as an organization. Members of the Nemaha County Home Health and Hospice team are FRONT ROW (L-R) Medical Director Dr. Kevin Kennally, Mary Ryan RN, and Director Patty Remmers; BACK ROW (L-R) Keri Bestwick LPN, Chaplain Andy Smith, Cheri Key RN, Jennifer Ploeger LBSW, Volunteer Coordinator Debby Thompson, Jean Ann Holland LBSW, Director of Nursing Teri Kruse RN and Katie Sheik MSW.

Nemaha County Home Health and Hospice is celebrating 40 years as an organization.

Founded in 1979 — with Joan Remmers, R.N., as agency administrator — as Nemaha County Home Health, the organization has experienced incredible growth in the past 20 years.

Director Patty Remmers has been involved since the organization’s inception, as a receptionist. She took over as director in 1987.

History

In 1979, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment had a nurse liaison program that worked with health departments in each county. Additionally, P. Remmers said, Medicare had an in-home nursing component already in place and a growing need developing for health care and education in the home.

KDHE had created a grant program that funded staff wages for the development of home health agencies across Kansas. Registered Nurse Joan Remmers, who currently was the office nurse for Dr. Jerry Jumper in Sabetha, was up for a new nursing challenge. Together, Jumper and J. Remmers wrote and submitted the grant application, and were awarded the grant.

Nemaha County Home Health and Hospice came into existence on May 1, 1979 — then under the name of Nemaha County Home Health Agency. It was established as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, and a board of community residents across Nemaha County volunteered to help.

Many of the new Home Health agencies across the state were based in county health departments, but Sabetha’s was one of the few that was free-standing, P. Remmers said. This was because Nemaha County did not have a health department.

Immediately after opening, P. Remmers said, the need for services other than home health began to grow. Children’s health assessments, immunizations and then a private pay bathing and homemaking service for seniors soon followed.

After one year of existence, Nemaha County Home Health Agency was eligible for and received a second year of funding.

“Since the grant was for wages, we were required to go to the community to raise money to support everything else required to deliver care,” P. Remmers said. “Many people and businesses donated money and office furniture to help us get started. The concept was not well known, but they took a risk.”

NCHH originally was housed in Ted and Joan Remmers’ home in Sabetha. The office was set up in a bedroom with donated office equipment. As the agency took on more responsibilities, it moved to a rented room in the Sabetha Community Hospital building, then grew into two rented rooms there.

Outgrowing those rooms, the agency was moved to a Main Street office. After the 1998 tornado, NCHH relocated to another Main Street building, then moved to the former Wenger home at 1205 Main. In March 2005, NCHH&H relocated to the old part of the Sabetha Community Hospital, where it has remained.

While the organization’s office location has moved over the years, the organization’s purpose — providing quality in-home health care — has not changed much.

However, P. Remmers said, how the organization functions and the number of regulations that must be complied with — the paperwork load — has changed dramatically.

Another change has been to exactly what services this particular organization would be providing.

At this, Nemaha County Home Health Agency was a growing, free-standing home health agency. At a certain point, the organization was recognized by the Nemaha County Commission as the local public health department, and Home Health contracted with the county to provide service and oversight for the county in a number of areas — health and environmental.

“In 1996, we were approached by both county hospitals to join force with them in a joint venture,” P. Remmers said. “As a result, we moved all the health department and private pay senior services into a not-for-profit organization that continues to provide care through Nemaha County Community Health Services. Home Health then became a department of the Sabetha Community Hospital, providing skilled nursing, physical, speech and occupational therapies.”

In 2004, hospice services were added through the support of Sabetha Community Hospital — and it officially became Nemaha County Home Health and Hospice.

NCHH&H works with the Nemaha Valley Community Hospital therapy department to serve patients in the western half of the county. The organization now utilizes internet-based electronic health records to create a centralized patient record to which all staff have access.

“This enhances the care coordination for all,” P. Remmers said.

Since its 1979 beginning, the organization has grown exponentially. In the beginning, Nemaha County Home Health had one registered nurse, one office person and one part-time home health aide. As programs were developed and added, the staff grew to approximately 20 full- and part-time employees. At that time, it split into two organizations.

Now, Nemaha County Home Health and Hospice staff approximately 10 employees. At this time, Nemaha County Home Health and Hospice is overseen by the Sabetha Community Hospital Board; Lora Key, hospital administrator; Dr. Kevin Kennally, medical director; and Patty Remmers, NCHH&H director.

Nemaha County Home Health and Hospice currently serves all of Nemaha County, and parts of Brown and Marshall counties.

Amber Deters130 Posts

Amber Deters is Co-Editor of The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2005. She specializes in school board, election and legislative reporting, as well as photography and page and advertising design. Amber is a 2005 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in journalism and mass communications, print journalism sequence. She lives in Sabetha with her husband and three children.

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