Alacare has just completed its sixth move in Oneonta since it first began operating in Blount County in 1989. During that time it expanded from about 10 employees and fewer than 20 patients to its present size of 42 employees providing home health care and hospice services to 185 patients in Blount and surrounding portions of Jefferson, Etowah, and Marshall counties.
The new 3000-sq.- ft. office on Ala 75 in Oneonta across from the Sonic drive-in is home to nurses, home care aides, therapists, social workers, volunteers, a chaplain, and administrative support staff.
Alacare provides two separate but related types of service: home health care focused on restoring patients to health following an illness or accident, and hospice care – compassionate care aimed at making patients’ end-of-life days as comfortable and pain-free as possible, along with providing support for the patient’s family members and caregivers.
About two-thirds of current patients are provided home health care, with the remaining one-third receiving hospice care. Both categories are delivered to patients in the familiar surroundings of their own homes. Both are provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with staff people on call for home visits if necessary after normal business hours and on weekends.
Home care services include nursing, pain management, medication management, wound care, rehabilitation therapy, diabetes education, telemonitoring as appropriate, disease management, mental health nursing, nutrition therapy, and social services. To qualify for hospice care, the patient must be declared terminally ill by the physician, with a life expectancy of six months or less. Admission to the program requires the physician’s order.
Headquartered in Birmingham, Alacare was founded in 1970 by Charles D. Beard Jr., and the agency is still owned and operated by the Beard family today. It serves most counties in the state from one of its 26 branch locations. Alacare is the state’s oldest and largest privately-owned Medicare-certified home health agency. It has been named one of the Birmingham
Top 10 Best Places to Work for the fifth year in a row this year for its category. The Oneonta branch was the third of its locations to be opened.
“We certainly appreciate the support we get throughout the community,” said branch director Kay Lilly. “If it weren’t for the community, and the cooperation of local physicians and hospitals, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do to improve out patients’ quality of life.”
Lilly said the company’s patient load is 95 percent Medicare-based, but that private insurance is also accepted. She said Alacare is always taking new patients and that the care provided is coordinated with the patient’s personal physician.