Presbyterian Medical Services shuttered program in October

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FARMINGTON — Horizon Home Health Care will be ceasing operations, making it the second hospice and home health services center to close in the Four Corners this fall.

Presbyterian Medical Services shut down its Northwest New Mexico Hospice and Home Health Care program in October.

Home health-care services pair patients who are well enough to leave care facilities with medical professionals and skilled nurses or medical assistants to offer patients independence.

Horizon’s services included skilled nursing, social work, and physical, occupational and speech therapy, as well as specialty programs, such as fall prevention and bladder incontinence programs, according to its website.

Horizon also offered personal care services, like assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming, light housekeeping and light meal prep, according to its website.

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Casey Crotty, CEO of Horizon Health Care, declined to comment on the closure, but his office did confirm on Nov. 17 that Horizon is closing.

Bloomfield resident Cherilyn Pearson and her 82-year-old mother-in-law Charlene Kennedy have been longtime clients at Horizon. Pearson said a representative from Horizon gave them the news during a home visit in early November.

“He dropped a letter on the table and a bomb on us,” Pearson said at the family’s home on Nov. 17.

Pearson said the letter stated that Horizon’s services would end by late December, and included suggestions for other local and regional hospice and home health-care operators to replace their services.

Though Crotty declined to comment on why Horizon is closing, Presbyterian Medical Services shut down its hospice and home health services because of, in part, “difficulty recruiting and retaining in Farmington the professional staff needed to sustain our home health and hospice agencies at a level we expect,” according to an Aug. 31 press release from PMS.

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“Evolving market conditions over the years have led to the opening of new home health and hospice agencies serving Farmington and surrounding areas,” the press release said. “San Juan County patients and their families now have numerous high-quality options to receive the home health and hospice services they need in our community.”

A Google search reveals that there are more than a dozen home health-care companies listed in Farmington alone.

Though PMS had trouble hiring and keeping qualified staff members, educational institutions in the Four Corners have been graduating medical students with a variety of degrees and certificates.

Farmington’s Charter Institute graduated its first class in early November — more than 65 students received medical assistant certificates on Nov. 12 — and San Juan College’s nursing program has 105 students enrolled in this year’s class, according to Rhonda Schaefer, marketing and public relations director for the college.

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A dozen students are on track to graduate with an associate degree in December, and another 20 — including three students with bachelor's degrees — should graduate in the spring, Schaefer said.

Those graduates are in demand. Every San Juan College nursing program graduate who has looked for work has found a job since 2015, according to the school’s website.

And the people were the most lasting part of their business with Horizon, Pearson said. The family formed close bonds with the medical personnel who provided care for Kennedy.

“It’s like losing a friend,” Pearson said of losing their longtime caregivers. “It really is. I’ll be honest with you — we just sat out and cried. I still want to cry, because we really just had such good service and such good care. … We were just so blessed to have that.”

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or mpetersen@daily-times.com.

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