Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: ACHHH ends pact with HVS

In September, the Board of Addison County Home Health and Hospice voted not to renew the contract for provision of volunteer coordination with End of Life Services, formerly Hospice Volunteer Services. This decision was the subject of many months of discussion and thoughtful consideration and was not an easy one in view of the long relationship and shared goals of service to the dying that our two organizations have had.
Although we feel that this is a private matter between two organizations, we realize that there have been some questions from community members regarding the decision, and we would like to take this opportunity to provide additional information.
ACHHH began contracting with HVS in 2005 for the coordination of volunteers who make themselves available to assist  ACHHH hospice patients. An annual fee has been paid by  ACHHH to HVS for those administrative services following the terms of the contract, as from time to time renewed and updated. The current contract expires at the end of 2019, and it is that contract that we have decided not to renew.
There are a number of items that the  ACHHH Board considered in coming to this decision. Cost is certainly a factor. Since the inception of the contract, the annual fee has increased an average of 10.6 percent annually. The fee is a sizeable expense in our budget, and we now feel that we can manage the program more efficiently in-house.
Most important, though, is the belief that the best quality can be achieved when all services under the hospice benefit are provided by a single responsible organization, which is  ACHHH. We feel that we can achieve more robust coordination and improve communication, and thereby care, when the entire hospice team, including social work, nursing and volunteers are working within the same organization.
The decision seems timely following the recent merging of HVS and ARCH and the formation of the new organization, End of Life Services. With EOLS branching out into other aspects of care around death and bereavement, the actual matching of volunteers with specific hospice patients is now only one part of a larger mission. That function is the significant piece missing from our goal to provide comprehensive hospice care within one unified program.
We recognize the incredible dedication and service of the current and past hospice volunteers who give so much of themselves — their care, their friendship and their time, to so many patients and their families. It is our hope that many will be willing to continue under the auspices of  ACHHH. We recognize that it is important to have an adequate number of volunteers to provide ample access as desired by patients and their families.
It is our intention that the work of the volunteers should be neither diminished nor essentially different under the coordination of  ACHHH, and our hope is that the transition should appear seamless from the perspective of volunteers and patients/families — a goal that we are confident is shared by the staff and board of End of Life Services.
We remain committed to working with EOLS through the end of the year in accordance with the current contract, and ensuring that all care underway at that time is transitioned or continued as appropriate. While our paths diverge somewhat with this change, our missions remain closely intertwined, and we continue to share a passion for providing high quality care in Addison County.
Bryan S. Young
Board President, Addison County Home Health & Hospice

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