WVU School of Nursing faculty member begins home visits under new health partnership

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Angel Smothers, R.N., a nationally certified family nurse practitioner and West Virginia University faculty member, will soon begin home-health visits to clients of Morgantown’s Tender Loving Care Home Health and Hospice (TLC) under a first-of-a-kind partnership.

“It’s novel for a nurse practitioner to make such visits in the Morgantown area,” said Sandra "Sam" Cotton, R.N., who is also a nurse practitioner and director of faculty practice at the School of Nursing. “Usually the patient has to come to the doctor’s office.”

Smothers, who teaches nursing undergraduates at WVU, will spend eight hours a week visiting patients, providing care as an advanced practice nurse in the Morgantown area. 

“Providing care in the home is a growing practice,” Smothers said. “Studies have shown that when patients receive in-home care after discharge, they are less likely to need to return to the hospital. Also, some patients don’t seek medical care until their conditions are so severe they require hospitalization. So it’s good to reach them in the home while they can be stabilized.”

As a nurse practitioner, Smothers will be able to write prescriptions for hospice and home-health patients, speeding up the process of getting medications into the home, said John Wagner, area vice president of hospice operations for Amedisys, which owns TLC.

Before the contract with WVU, TLC clients – most of whom are covered by Medicare and Medicaid – would receive visits from nurses, occupational therapists or other home healthcare workers. Patients will not be charged additional fees for Smothers’ service as a nurse practitioner.

“This is a pilot program for us. Having Angel’s capability and level of experience as a nurse practitioner in the field will help us identify patients at high risk of hospitalization,” Wagner said. “We think we can really make a difference. We’d like to see if we can replicate it everywhere else in the country.”

“We’re very excited about the contract. This is one of our first contracts with an outside agency,” Cotton said. “Through this position she will definitely enhance quality of life for patients, which has become a major focus for the School of Nursing.”

 TLC has been delivering home-health and hospice services in the community for 25 years, Wagner said. Amedisys, headquartered in Baton Rouge, acquired the company in March. 



For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
ab: 09-02-08

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