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Public home health and hospice division to end in eastern Upper Peninsula

The Chippewa County Health Department is shutting down one of its services due to nurse shortages and financial issues.
Chippewa County Health Department
The Chippewa County Health Department says it's shutting down its home health and hospice division by the end of 2024.

The Chippewa County Health Department announced on Feb. 15 their home health and hospice division will be closing its doors by the end of the year.

The decision was made back in November 2023 by the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners.

A shortage of nurses and aids, along with poor financial returns, are some of the reasons the board made the decision to shut down the programs.

Karan Sankus, a public health officer with the CCDH, said the revenue problems started during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There's been some major changes in the structure of reimbursement for both home health and hospice," Sankus said. "That coupled with staff shortages have led the board to take a closer look at the finances over the past several years."

In 1991, the health department teamed its division up with the Hospice of the EUP, a non-profit organization that is funded by the community through donations and charity events.

The division and EUP organization worked together for 32 years, providing end-of-life and at-home care for the elderly.

"It's just really making sure that the community understands that we're not discontinuing the services and they're still available," said Tracey Holt, the Executive Director of the Hospice of the EUP.

Holt also said the EUP is currently interviewing different agencies to ensure patients receive the best medical care they can get.

The health department division has already closed to its home health care services, but will keep their hospice services open until the end of the year.

"There [have] always been a few other providers in the area that are also CMS certified that provide hospice and home health services, so what we've been trying to do during this transition period is we're meeting with those partners to see if they can cover more residents," Sankus said.

Scott Rechlin is a newsroom intern covering northeast Lower Michigan and the eastern Upper Peninsula for WCMU.
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