Notre Dame Health System’s ‘continuum of care’

By Clarion Herald Staff
Photo Courtesy Norte Dame Health System

In medical terms, it is called a “continuum of care” – meeting the unique health-care needs of individuals and families as they face the realities of aging and physical and mental decline.

For decades, the Archdiocese of New Orleans has provided vital housing and medical services for the elderly and the sick through Chateau de Notre Dame, Wynhoven Health Care Center and Our Lady of Wisdom Health Care Center.

Those services were expanded several years ago to include Notre Dame Hospice, which last year touched the lives of 900 persons approaching death, and more recently the addition of 13 memory-care units at Chateau de Notre Dame and the establishment of Notre Dame Home Care, which offers light housekeeping and companion services for the elderly in their homes.

Meeting needs at home

Now those health-care options have expanded once again with the addition of Notre Dame Home Health, which provides home-based, clinical services to families concerned with caring for their loved ones through multiple stages of life, said Wayne Plaisance, chief executive officer of Notre Dame Health System.

“It’s really about meeting people where they are,” Plaisance said. “Not everybody needs the same level of care and support. We can work with people, whether they need assisted living, skilled nursing, home care, home health care, hospice services or private-duty support in the home. Notre Dame Health System offers that full continuum of care.”

As the Baby Boomer generation begins to retire, Plaisance said the time is ripe for innovative approaches to health care that have two overarching goals: providing excellent care and keeping hospital and nursing-home admissions to a minimum.

“The reality is we can’t put everybody in (medical) institutions,” Plaisance said. “There are not enough buildings to house all the Baby Boomers, and the Baby Boomers are going to expect to be home as long as possible. They’re going to look for other options to stay at home, and we support that.”

The most recent addition to Notre Dame Health System – Notre Dame Home Health – covers a 50-mile radius centered on the northshore of Lake Pontchartrain (Mandeville) and encompasses a large portion of Greater New Orleans.

“The trend in medicine appears to be going to home care,” Plaisance said. “You’ve been hearing the term ‘hospital at home.’ Things that were normally done in a hospital, like IVs, are being done at home now. With technology advancing the way it is, there’s a lot of technology that will support better oversight and decentralized locations and monitoring of certain medical conditions. It’s really being pushed back into the least institutionalized setting that you can find that meets the need of the patient or the resident that’s being served.”

Notre Dame Health System served nearly 2,000 persons last year. More information is available at www.notredamehealth.org or by calling toll-free at (888) 673-9003.

Plaisance is especially looking for retirees who may be willing to work part-time as home companions. “They’re coming to the home to help you get dressed in the morning or fix your breakfast, help with light housekeeping, drive you to get your hair done or to go out with your girlfriends to have a nice lunch,” he said.

This is where the Catholic Church needs to be, Plaisance said. Probably more than half of Notre Dame’s nursing home residents are not Catholic.

“We’re a Catholic health system, and we want to be welcoming to all faiths and traditions,” he said.

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