Just about everybody is at least somewhat aware of the life-enhancing options hospitals and nursing homes have to offer. Health care in an institutional setting can be both expensive and intimidating. Many kinds of health care services, however, can be provided in a much more welcoming venue - one's own home.
Providing highly customized treatment solutions that keep the patient at home to the maximum extent possible consistent with high-quality health care is the mission of home health agencies such as Iowa Home Care.
IHC is a Des Moines-based enterprise owned by Kim and Steve Webber. It was launched in 2004. A Fort Dodge regional unit opened in July 2010 at 216 S. Eighth St. to serve nine counties - Calhoun, Hamilton, Hancock, Humboldt, Kossuth, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Webster and Wright.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Iowa Home Care performance improvement manager Christina Anderson, standing, and Megan Springer, clinical supervisor, keep tabs on how a client is doing in their Fort Dodge offices.
The Fort Dodge IHC team is headed by Donette Klepsteen, a registered nurse with a long background in public health, who serves as administrator. She said the company is expanding rapidly with the goal of eventually offering its services throughout the entire state.
Klepsteen said IHC already has about 400 employees and a presence in more than a third of Iowa's 99 counties. The Fort Dodge unit, with a staff of 40, currently assists about 140 clients and is poised to serve many more.
Many of the people IHC benefits are elderly, but the agency's clientele is not limited to senior citizens.
"Our clients range anywhere from infant all the way up to 90-something," Klepsteen said. "We've had as little as a 2-month-old baby with a trach and a G-tube all the way up to a 96-year-old still in their home. I would say that overall, most of our population is elderly, but not exclusively."
Klepsteen said Iowa Home Care offers a wide array of health care and related services. She stressed that each of the clients has unique needs and is approached on an individual basis. The solutions provided are highly customized to each person's situation in close consultation with the individual's physician or other health care practitioner.
There is, however, one constant feature.
"All of our services are provided inside homes," Klepsteen said. "It's quality in home care. And it's for the love of home. ... It's to have people thrive in their home."
Iowa Home Care is part of an increased emphasis in the health care world on keeping patients in a home setting whenever that is possible. Klepsteen said this both improves their morale and can be a financially attractive option.
"It's a very cost-effective way," she said. "Instead of a person being in a hospital for 10 days for IV antibiotics, we can do that in the home. They are not exposed to all the germs and infections that you can get in the hospital. They are in the comfort of their home where we all know that everybody thrives better."
About Iowa Home Care
The array of services available from Iowa Home Care is vast. It includes skilled nursing, home health aide, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, IV infusion therapy, medication setup and reminders, diabetic foot care, medical social work, personal emergency response systems, live-in, companion care, respite care, shopping and errands, light housekeeping, meal preparation, aromatherapy and soft tissue massage. Through a partnership with Magellan, mental health services are among the offerings.
And the list could go on. Klepsteen said her team stands ready to tackle even difficult cases.
"We're here and we provide good quality service," she said. "We accept everybody. ... That is absolutely one thing that sets us apart. ... I am not afraid to hire for a case. In fact, I just hired six to take care of this one quadriplegic."
The agency is certified to accept Medicare and Medicaid patients but people with assorted types of insurance and private pay clients are all welcome, according to Klepsteen.
The personnel selected to provide services are all highly skilled and professional, Klepsteen said. She said the company invests heavily in training to make sure its employees are all top-notch.
Meet the administrator
Donette Klepsteen grew up in Calhoun County and graduated from Rockwell City High School. She is a registered nurse who received her training in that field at Iowa Central Community College. For 13 years she was a public health nurse.
Klepsteen was hired by IHC to lead the effort to establish a Fort Dodge-based office and gain the necessary government approvals.
"I helped them get ready for the accreditation," she said.
The mission of Iowa Home Care is very much in sync with Klepsteen's personal health care philosophy.
"Keeping people in their home is so gratifying," she said. "There is no place like home. That's where we are the happiest is in our home. ... For me, it just got in my blood and I love it. Even though I'm the administrator here, I still take care of one lady. And my success story with her is I've kept her out of the hospital for over 2 1/2 years and she was in the hospital on a monthly basis until I picked her up. ... In home care, you really build a one-on-one relationship with that person. For me, I guess that's what it is all about."