Home Health Foundation will join with Wellforce

MIKE LABELLA/Staff photo  High Pointe House, a hospice and palliative care facility located on North Avenue in Haverhill, is operated by the Home Health Foundation based in Lawrence.

LAWRENCE — Officials with the Lawrence-based Home Health Foundation said their patients will continue to be served while the agency awaits approval to partner with Wellforce, a growing health system formed by Tufts Medical Center and Circle Health in 2014. 

Home Health Foundation, which in Haverhill operates High Pointe House of Merrimack Valley Hospice, a hospice and palliative care facility on North Avenue, will become the fourth member of Wellforce.

This partnership, which will eventually include Wellforce’s current members Circle Home and Hallmark Health VNA and Hospice, creates one of largest home health and hospice providers in the region and will be led by Home Health Foundation CEO Karen Gomes.

Donna Deveau, spokeswoman for Home Health Foundation, said that as a member of Wellforce, Home Health Foundation will reach a much broader base of patients who need services while continuing to serve its current patients.

"Through this affiliation, we'll be working with all Wellforce partners, which cover a wider area that we currently serve because of the multiple members," Deveau said. "It is a unique affiliation that allows us to remain true to our roots and our mission, while also benefiting from what membership in a larger health care system can provide.

She said the not-for-profit Home Health Foundation will retain its board of directors, and may even expand the board, Deveau said.

Home Health Foundation is a multistate, full service provider of certified home health, palliative, hospice and private duty services with an annual revenue of $60 million, officials for the organization said. 

The agency serves people in 110 communities in Essex and Rockingham counties with five offices.

Home Health Foundation serves about 16,000 patients each year. It currently serves about 1,600 hospice patients throughout the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire, while its home hospice services also reach into Maine.

Wellforce, based in Burlington, includes nearly 3,000 physicians and 12,000 employees in its health system with four community hospital campuses, an academic medical center, a children's hospital, and home health and hospice services. The company brings in $1.7 billion in revenue annually, its officials said.

“Wellforce is proud to welcome Home Health Foundation, a highly respected and innovative home health and hospice provider, to our growing system," said Wellforce CEO, Norm Deschene. "Home health and hospice care is a vital link in the continuum of care and the need is growing,

"Karen (Gomes) will lead our team, working with Diane Farraher-Smith, leader of Circle Home and Hallmark Health VNA and Hospice, and the professionals at our current home health organizations, to enhance the ways we help individuals stay healthy, manage challenging health conditions, recover from illness or injury and transition to end of life," Deschene added.

Wellforce and Home Health Foundation will submit their plans to the Health Policy Commission immediately and hope to finalize the agreement in the next few months to begin advancing the next chapter in home health and hospice services for the region, officials said.

"The effective and efficient delivery of medical and supportive services at home is more important than ever," said Gomes. "We are excited to join with the outstanding health care providers of Wellforce to expand what is possible for patients throughout our service areas. Together we can provide more coordinated, convenient and high quality care for individuals and families who want to remain at home. I look forward to leading the team."

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