Banner 1: When the open road calls... know that you can still answer.
  • Banner 1: When the open road calls... know that you can still answer.

Having Fun and Raising Funds at the 4th Annual Clays for Kids Event

August 22, 2013

The 4th annual Clays for Kids event, put on by our friends at Oakwood Healthcare and sponsored in part by Home Care America, took place last Monday, and just as in years past, we were honored to be a part of such a wonderful day.

This year’s event raised over $140,000, an impressive $25,000 more than last year! The money raised from the event’s 114 participants is distributed between two of Oakwood’s amazing facilities, with 75% going to the Center for Exceptional Families and 25% going to the rehabilitation unit at their Heritage Hospital.

We are currently planning a similar event for September in Grand Rapids called Clays for a Cure to benefit the Helen DeVos Children’s Cancer Center. We’ll be sure to share details of how you can participate, so stay tuned!

Introducing the New Home Care America Web Store

August 20, 2013

In just a few days, a new SHOP section will appear on the main navigation of this website, which will take you to an online store stocked with some of the best assistance products on the market.
The new Home Care America web store is our way of making shopping for assistance products an easy and secure process for our customers. Many of the products are those that a doctor would not traditionally prescribe or an insurance provider would not cover. Instead of having to drive to a store or shop online with a website you are not familiar with, you’ll soon be able to learn about and purchase an array of products that help to keep you safe, comfortable and independent in your home.

Some great products on the new website include grab bars to keep you safe while bathing, chair lifts to help you get in and out of your favorite recliner and bedside rails to prevent any accidental falls at night — and that’s just to name a few.

We are so excited to announce this new addition to our website, and we are certain it will be a beneficial resource for our customers.

Knock, knock: What to expect during a visit from Home Care America

May 30, 2013

For many, having home medical equipment delivered for the first time can be a little intimidating — but it shouldn’t be. At Home Care America, our delivery and service technicians go above and beyond to make sure you are comfortable and confident with your new medical equipment. Here is some insight to our delivery process and what you can expect during a visit from the HCA team.

• Once we receive an order from your medical professional, we contact you immediately to set up a time and date for delivery.

• On the day of your appointment, your service technician will let you know when he or she is on the way before showing up at your door.

• When the service technician gets to your home, he or she will take your equipment out of our van and set it up wherever you like, and he or she can also help you decide on a safe and convenient location for your equipment.

• The service technician will then fully assemble your equipment and spend some time with you to make sure you know how to use, clean and maintain your new equipment.

• Your technician will also leave a phone number with you that you can call anytime if you have any questions after your technician leaves, or if there is an emergency or you need to schedule pickup.

• If for whatever reason one of our service technicians arrives and you are not home, not to worry. We will simply leave a “sorry we missed you” note on your door knob. Give us a call and we will work together to schedule another time for your delivery.

If you have any questions about delivery or service calls from Home Care America, please feel free to email or call us! We’re here and happy to answer all of your inquiries.

Spring has Sprung: Simple, easy and natural tips to manage allergy season

May 3, 2013

Well, it’s spring. Longer days, warmer weather and oh yea….allergies.

Severe allergies can be a nightmare and as debilitating as any flu, cold or virus. Seasonal sufferers should consult their doctor for the best course of treatment, but there are several things we all can do to reduce and even prevent our spring time allergy woes.

Pollen is a major culprit of allergic irritations, and according to the Associated Press, pollen levels are much higher than normal this year in the south and midwest regions of the country. Reducing our exposure to pollen can be done in a number of simple, easy and natural ways.

1. Pollen count is much higher in the morning, so to avoid this peak time consider rescheduling your outdoor activities to afternoon hours.

2. Try washing out your nose. Sure, it sounds funny, but pollen can settle inside your nostrils. Just a gentle spritz with saline solution is a quick and easy way to clear it out.

3. Wash your sheets and blankets more often. Allergens are great at settling in soft surfaces, and if you’re getting a full eight hours like you should, that is eight hours of laying in irritants.

4. Wash your hair before bed instead of in the morning. All day long, your hair is picking up pollen and other allergens. Get into bed with clean hair so all that linen washing suggested above doesn’t go to waste.

5. Wash your pets more frequently— specifically your pets that are allowed outside. Just as your hair is collecting pollen and allergens all day, their fur is doing the same.

6. Eat right. It’s just another great way to keep your immune system working at full capacity so that you are better able to fight through allergy symptoms.

7. For those of you who use a concentrator, make sure your water, filter and tubing are cleaned regularly. Click here for more safety, maintenance and cleaning tips for concentrators.

Happy Spring!

A Proud Moment: HCA receives CHAP accreditation.

April 30, 2013

We are so proud to announce a new industry accreditation for Home Care America from the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP). While we have been accredited year after year with JCAHO (Joint Commission) since our inception in the early 1980s, we invited CHAP into our facilities this year and are thrilled we earned their respected seal of approval.

Established in 1965, CHAP is the oldest national, community-based accrediting organization. The goal of CHAP is to assist all types of community-based healthcare organizations as they work to strengthen their operations and improve and promote techniques, systems, efficiency, customer care, consumer safety and customer satisfaction.

On the CHAP website it states, “accreditation is a process, not an event,” and we could not agree more. Receiving a third-party accreditation such as this validates that we are doing exactly as we should be every single day to maintain a safe, quality business while continually meeting the needs of our customers.

To learn more about CHAP and the accreditation process, visit www.chapinc.org.

Competitive Bidding: What it means for your access to quality, affordable home medical equipment.

For nearly 30 years, we have prided ourselves and built our business on the quality of equipment and customer care we provide. We have always made it a priority to only offer the best in durable home medical equipment. Our team’s primary goal is to make certain that you are happy with your equipment and that you feel comfortable and confident using your equipment, which is why we always make our time and attention available. We never cut corners. We never take shortcuts. We never compromise our quality. But soon we may have to along with every home medical equipment supplier in this country.

Why?
Competitive bidding.

Competitive bidding for home medical equipment suppliers is a new program within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) system that attempts to lower Medicare spending. Since 2011, more and more regions across the country have been requiring home medical equipment companies to participate in the competitive bidding process in order to continue to work with CMS and other hospitals and medical centers. While lowering unnecessary spending is very important, the competitive bidding process does little to reduce “unnecessary” spending and instead is threatening the very quality and care we offer our customers.

CMS has designed a program that does not hold bidders accountable for the quality of their products or services. In fact, there is no verification or certification system in place to insure that bidders even carry the type of equipment they are bidding on supplying, let alone if they have knowledge and experience in servicing that type of equipment. Companies are forced to bid so low in order to win any contracts that there is no way they can provide a quality product and be able to stay in business. The competitive bidding process threatens to destroy many home medical equipment companies and significantly reduce the access people have to quality products and services.

How will competitive bidding affect you as a Medicare beneficiary?
• You may be forced to find a new provider of home medical equipment if your current provider is not awarded a bid
• A new provider could be farther away, increasing travel time to receive new equipment and services
• Beneficiaries in rural areas may be more affected, as most medical equipment providers are in metropolitan areas
• Providers who win bids take on larger caseloads, causing longer wait times for equipment and customer care, which can result in immobility, emergency room visits and hospital stays for customers
• No certification is required for a provider to win a bid, therefore they may not even carry the equipment they bid on providing — let alone have experience and knowledge in servicing that type of equipment
• Low bid equipment is the cheapest equipment on the market, making it susceptible to malfunctions and failure
• You may no longer have access to your preferred equipment and will have limited options and less access to the latest models that could improve your daily living

What types of equipment are subject to competitive bidding?
• Oxygen supplies and equipment
• Standard power wheelchairs, scooters and related supplies
• Mail-order diabetic replacement supplies
• Enteral nutrients, equipment and supplies
• CPAR, RADs and relates supplies and accessories
• Hospital beds and related accessories
• Walkers and related accessories
• Negative pressure wound therapy pumps and related supplies
• Support surfaces

Is there anything you can do to stop this?
Yes. You can contact your state representative and senators and ask them to repeal the Medicare Competitive Bidding Program for durable medical equipment. You can also call the Congressional Switchboard toll free at 1.202.224.3121.

Clays for Kids: 2012 Video

March 25, 2013

Last year’s Clays for Kids event was such a huge success, and we cannot wait for this year’s event!

As a title sponsor of this amazing day put on by Oakwood Healthcare, our President and CEO Randy Kowalski explains the fun and importance of Clays for Kids in this great video.

We hope that you will join us for this year’s Clays for Kids event and help make a difference in the lives of children with special needs.

In the meantime, we invite you to read our earlier blog post with more details about this special day here, enjoy the video below and stay tuned for registration and event details for Clays for Kids 2013!

Do you use a concentrator? Expert answers to your questions.

March 1, 2013

Concentrators are one of the most common type of medical equipment we provide here at Home Care America. That being said, some of the most frequently asked questions we hear are about concentrators. So we sat down with one of HCA’s long-time technicians and now Service Manager, Jerry Barkoff, to learn what questions people most often have about their concentrators and his expert answers to those important questions.

My concentrator is not putting out any air, what should I do?
First, check to make sure the concentrator has power. Second, check the tubing and make sure there are no kinks or obstructions. Third, if you have a humidifier bottle, check to make sure the water is bubbling.

My tubing has water in it. Why is this happening and what should I do?
Make sure you are only using distilled water. If there is condensation, this may indicate too much humidity in the home. If there are beads of water, replace the humidifier and all the tubing.

My nose and throat are dry. Is there something I can use to prevent this?
Yes, a humidifier bottle.

There is a beeping noise coming from the concentrator, what is it?
The concentrator has three indicator lights and two alarms. If your tubing is occluded or kinked and the ball in your liter flow is below one LPM, you will hear a fast beep. A red light and long alarm indicate service is required, and you should call as soon as possible to arrange an exchange.

My concentrator is indicating a yellow light, what does this mean?
This means the oxygen purity is below normal standards, and there could be a few reasons why the light would go on. First, check the filters on your concentrator and make sure they are clean. Second, if you have a humidifier bottle on your concentrator, make sure the liter flow is not above four LPM. Remove the humidifier and watch the liter flow, if the ball goes up this may indicate back pressure, which will trigger the yellow light. Third, replace all tubing and the humidifier.

If you have questions about your concentrator or any other piece of home medical equipment, please do not hesitate to give us a call. We are always happy to hear from our customers and to help in any way that we can.



Maintenance is Key: Keeping Your Equipment Safe, Clean and Working Right

February 25, 2013

On occasion, a customer may stop by or call us about a glitch with their home medical equipment. We take problems with your equipment very seriously, and always do a thorough check of the equipment to identify and correct any problems. Often times, however, what we find is a problem as simple as cleaning out a water chamber or changing a filter.

When water, filters and other pieces that need regular replacement or cleaning are not tended to, it can lead to unsanitary equipment, which in turn can have harmful effects. By properly maintaining your equipment, you not only keep it sanitary, but you also keep it running properly.

We sat down with our Respiratory and Biomedical Coordinator, Ryan Grant, and had him share with us some important steps for maintaing your equipment. Following Ryan’s simple steps will help keep your equipment running effectively and reliably.

Steps for CPAP Maintenance
• Change water daily
• Only use distilled water
• Clean the water chamber at least once a week using soft soap or baby shampoo and rinse thoroughly

Steps for Concentrator Maintenance
• Change filters a minimum of once a week, the more the better
• Change water weekly
• Use only distilled water
• Change tubing every two weeks

Steps for Nebulizer Maintenance
• Change cups every two weeks
• Change entire kit once a month

Steps for Portable Tank Maintenance
• Change tubing every two weeks
• Turn off tank when not using, and not just the regulator.

If you every have any questions about maintaining and cleaning your home medical equipment, do not hesitate to call or email us. We are here to make sure your equipment is safe and working properly.

Sticky Situations: Preventing the Spread of Germs

February 15, 2013

Germs can be spread throughout the day, and virtually anywhere, from door knobs and telephones to shopping cart handles and gas pumps. As always, washing your hands frequently is the most important way to stop the spread of germs. If you missed our blog entry about steps for effective hand washing, you can read it here.

While we encourage you to wash your hands frequently throughout the day to help prevent getting sick, here are some key times when it is a must to lather up with soap and water and wash those germs away.

• When you return home from shopping or running an errand

• Whenever hands are visibly soiled with dirt, blood or body fluids

• After using the bathroom

• After blowing your nose or sneezing

• After coughing into your hands

• Before and after handling food, eating, drinking or smoking

• After handling garbage

• Before and and after changing wound dressings

• After handling soiled linen

• After handling pets and animals

• Before using respiratory medical equipment and supplies, and after removing gloves

Keeping it Clean this Flu Season: The Best Way to Wash Germs Away

February 12, 2013

The flu season is yet again upon us — and one of the best ways to prevent the flu is simply by washing your hands.

Hand washing is key in preventing the spread of germs, thus preventing infections and staying healthy. Believe it or not, though, there is a right way and a wrong way to wash your hands.

To keep the flu at bay right now, and to help prevent getting sick all year long, here are the steps for effective hand washing.

1. Use warm water and wet hands thoroughly

2. Use antibacterial soap and lather well

3. Scrub hands, between fingers, wrists, forearms and under nails with soap for at least 15 seconds

4. Rinse thoroughly

5. Dry hands thoroughly, preferably using a paper towel

6. Turn off faucets with a paper towel

If there is no water and soap available, the CDC recommends using anti-bacterial hand rub to keep hands clean and fight germs.

Breathe Easy: Important Safety Tips for Your Home Oxygen System

September 27, 2012

Many of our wonderful customers have come to us for the supply and support of home oxygen systems. We know the great relief these oxygen systems can bring, but we also know the associated risks. That is why making our oxygen customers aware of potential dangers and the precautions that can lessen the chances of injury or damage is a top priority for us.

The greatest risk when using oxygen is the potential for fire. Smoking while using oxygen is incredibly dangerous and can cause a cigarette, cigar or pipe to burst into flames and ignite clothing and nearby furniture. Even if you do not smoke, sparks or heat from a nearby smoker can be enough to cause a fire.

Certain electrical appliances can also trigger a fire when in close proximity to your oxygen, especially when first being plugged in. Electrical appliances that create a heat source are also more likely to start a fire, such as a hair dryer or space heater.

Oxygen can also cause a fire in a poorly ventilated vehicle, so we urge you to take proper precautions when driving with your oxygen.

Fortunately, there are many ways to keep yourself safe and breathing easy. Here are a few of our top tips for oxygen safety:

• Post “No Smoking – Oxygen in Use” signs on all entrance and exit doors in your home and workplace, if possible. This will not only keep people from smoking around you, but can also alert the fire department personnel that oxygen is being used if they are ever called to your location.

• Read, understand and follow the oxygen device instructions. If you have any questions about the functions, features, set-up, maintenance or use or your oxygen, please let us know and we will be happy to answer all of your questions.

• Never smoke while using oxygen or when near an oxygen supply device. Avoid being in close proximity to someone who is smoking.

• Keep yourself and the oxygen supply device at least five to six feet away from any fire, stove, oven, grill, candles or other heat source or open flame, electrical appliances that make sparks and elements that produce high heat (toaster, space heater, hair dryer, electric razor, electric igniter, etc).

• Do not use flammable aerosol sprays (spray paint, hair spray) or rubbing alcohol near the oxygen supply in case of spontaneous burning.

• Do not use petroleum based products such as cosmetic oils, waxes, petroleum jelly or greases on your face because they can easily burn in the presence of oxygen. Instead, use water-based products such as KY Jelly.

• Avoid static electric spark conditions such as synthetic blankets.

• Store spare oxygen tanks so they cannot be tipped, hit or knocked over. If a tank gets knocked over and damaged, the gas can escape and make the tank act like a rocket. It is best to lay them down flat.

• Keep a fire extinguisher in the area of oxygen use.

• Ensure smoke detectors are functioning properly.

• Have a strong evacuation plan in case of a fire.

• Do not place oxygen tubing under furniture, bed covers or carpets to ensure proper oxygen flow and to avoid tripping hazards.

• If you live in an older home, you may need to use a grounded three-prong adapter to ensure the safe use of the oxygen concentrator (avoid using extension cords).

• Keep your oxygen concentrator plugged into a wall outlet by itself, making sure no other electronic devices are plugged in to that outlet.

• Store liquid oxygen in a well ventilated area and avoid contact with this very cold substance to avoid burning your skin.

• If you are confined to bed, keep a bell or other means to summon help.

• Do not change the prescribed liter flow without your doctor’s permission.

If there is a fire in your home while you are using oxygen supply, here are quick, necessary steps to follow:

• Shut off the oxygen supply and remove the tubing from the oxygen supply device, if it is possible and safe to do so.

• Get away from the oxygen supply device, oxygen tubing and the fire.

• If the fire is on you, remove the oxygen tubing, stop, drop and roll and pat out any fire.

• Activate the area fire alarm and call 911.

• Contain the fire by shutting room doors.

• Extinguish the fire with water or a fire extinguisher, only if possible and safe to do so.

We hope that you never are put in a situation where your oxygen system creates a risk, and following these helpful suggestions is a great way to lessen the risks.

Don’t Let Your Equipment Trip You Up: Tips for Preventing a Fall

September 12, 2012

Having the equipment to live a healthier, more comfortable life right in your own home is wonderful, but it can also pose some risks that you need to be aware of — like tripping or falling. When you are first becoming aquatinted with having medical equipment, and even after you have become accustom to having it in your home, there is a higher likelihood of accidentally tripping, falling or even slipping because of your equipment.

We want your home medical equipment to be nothing but helpful and comfortable, which is why we’ve compiled this list of preventative steps so you can minimize your chance of having a slip or a fall.

  • Understand and follow the equipment instructions regarding proper use and safety. If you have any questions about how to operate your equipment, please call us and we will be happy to help.
  • Remove any items from stairs and walkways, like shoes or home decorations.
  • Remove throw rugs that may cause you to trip. If a rug is needed, use rugs with non-skid backing to avoid slipping.
  • Arrange furniture so that pathways are not cluttered and you have ample room to move around with or without your equipment.
  • Repair or replace torn carpeting.
  • Improve the lighting in your home, especially in hallways, stairs and bathrooms. Adding more lamps and replacing bulbs with higher-watt bulbs can help.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
  • Use bathtub grab bars to help you get in and out of the tub or shower. If you would like us to suggest a model of grab bars, we would be more than happy to help.
  • Wear slippers or shoes that will not slide. Rubber-soled shoes and slippers are best.
  • Keep your eye glasses, cane and walker within reach. Having the most important things you need to move around at an arm’s length can help prevent falls.
  • If you have a hospital bed, keep it in the lowest position. Also make sure the wheels are locked at all times. If you would like to know more about the features of your hospital bed, we can certainly provide you with that information and show you first-hand.
  • Use the bed rails of your hospital bed when appropriate. If you have any questions on how to adjust the bed rails, let us know and we can show you.
  • Use a bath seat if it is difficult to stand during a shower or if it is too difficult to get out of a tub. If you would like help locating a bath seat, we can help.
  • Use an elevated toilet seat or safety rails if you need support getting on and off the toilet. We can provide you with this equipment.
  • Use chairs with arm rests and high backs for more support when sitting and more leverage when getting in and out of the chair.
  • Avoid locking bathroom doors so others can assist you if you need to be helped. If you are worried about someone walking in, we suggest putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door knob or something comparable that lets others know the bathroom is occupied.
  • Store frequently used items at waist level. You may want to ask a friend or family member to help you rearrange drawers if need be.

Use a reacher/grabber to avoid standing on a chair or footstool when items are not in arms reach. We can provide you with a reacher or grabber if you need one.

If you use a wheelchair, lock the wheels every time you get in or out.

Your safety is important to us, and we hope that this list of tips will help you stay safe while you enjoy the benefits of your home medical equipment.

Aiming for a Cause

August 28, 2012

Your shotgun can help provide more than 2,000 medical clinic visits, over 7,000 therapy sessions and over 400 new patient evaluations for children with special needs. Yes, your shotgun (well, and your checkbook).

Over the last several years, we’ve had the great honor of sponsoring the annual Clays for Kids event, and this year will be no exception. Come August 21st, the Detroit Gun Club will host generous shooters from across the country as they shoot to support Oakwood’s Center for Exceptional Families (CEF).

CEF is truly a phenomenal asset to our community, the only one of its kind in the state, and one of only a few in the country — offering families of children with special needs healthcare, social work, mental health and rehabilitation services. CEF is unique in that it not only does amazing work to help children with special needs but also provides financial, educational, psychological and recreational programming and resources for their parents and siblings as well.

Clays for Kids attendees enjoy a full day of clay shooting, a silent auction, lunch and dinner. And what competition would be complete without an awards ceremony to end the day?

A great time was had by all at last years event, and we raised over $114,000 for CEF!