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Joyce Endee

VNA-Hospice to affiliate with Laconia homecare agency

Change will not impact community services

January 28, 2010
WOLFEBORO — On Tuesday the Boards of Trustees from Community Health & Hospice in Laconia and VNA-Hospice of Southern Carroll County and Vicinity in Wolfeboro announced jointly that they have voted to enter into an affiliation agreement.

In the announcement, Community Health & Hospice Executive Director Margaret Franckhauser stated, "Pressures in the current healthcare environment are challenging the ability of small agencies to deliver care into the future. Demands for technology, rising administrative requirements and the increasing complexity of home-based healthcare have intensified the need for high-level business, technical and clinical expertise."

"An affiliation strengthens both parties' ability to provide Home Healthcare and Hospice services while addressing these pressures," she added.

Both VNA-Hospice and Community Health & Hospice have been actively seeking a partner to share the burden of administrative and overhead costs for the past few years. In May 2008 VNA-Hospice undertook a major fundraising effort after spending a year cutting overhead costs by 22 percent and finding that was not enough to keep going. At that time it also applied for a $75,000 strategic planning grant for the NH Charitable Foundation to explore its options. At that time, Board President Headley White said, "We are actively engaged in discussion with other local health care organizations in order to cope with these challenges for the long term." Options being explored at that time, according to White, included sharing of administrative services up to and including a merger.

Eventually this search led to Community Health & Hospice in Laconia. According to White, "When we looked closer, it was remarkable how much we had to gain [by combining] and how similar our two organizations really are."

The intention in the affiliation is to maintain existing offices in Laconia and Wolfeboro and continue to offer the same clinical services. "Patients should see no changes," White said. VNA-Hospice will be moving its offices into the new Huggins Hospital when it is completed from its current location in the old hospital building, which is scheduled for demolition.

There will be a new name for the combined organization, but both agencies will continue to operate under their current names. Over three years the combined board will be reduced from 22 members to 16 and overhead operations will be consolidated.

There will be public hearings on the proposed affiliation, so members of the served communities will have the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. The dates of those hearings will be announced in the press and on the radio.

The joint statement ends by reassuring the communities served by both agencies: "The boards and management of both organizations are committed to continuing their history of providing quality home healthcare and hospice services to their respective communities. All parties are confident that this is in the best interest of the supporting communities now and long into the future."

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Varney Smith
Garnett HIll
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