Kevin Nestrick finds growth in backyard

Thursday, December 17, 2009

PRESCOTT, Ariz. – Provider Kevin Nestrick recently expanded his service area to include familiar territory: Bullhead City, where he’s lived for 32 years.

“I had an opportunity in my own backyard,” said Nestrick, CEO/founder of Altius Healthcare, a home infusion company. “It’s nice to go back and see old friends and colleagues.”

The company started in 1990 as part of the OptionCare franchise, but it dropped the name after Walgreens bought OptionCare in 2007. Headquartered in Prescott, Altius also has locations in Tucson, Yuma and Flagstaff, from which it covers “every zip code.”

Altius has grown by focusing on underserved rural areas, said Nestrick.

“There are a lot of national companies in the metropolitan areas but they tend not to look at the rural market,” he said. “We grew up in these rural markets and we try to have more of a local presence in the smaller medical communities in Arizona.”

Altius specializes in treating infectious diseases and also provides nutritional therapy and management, often for “very, very ill” patients.

“Over the years we have been in business, the acuity of the patient has risen quite dramatically,” said Nestrick. “We take patients in their homes that 10 years ago would have still been in an institutional setting. Through advances in home care and home infusion and HME, we are able to take care of a lot of patients at home at a reduced cost.”

That’s a message Nestrick wishes Medicare would get. Active in the National Community Pharmacists Association—he chairs its home health services committee—and the National Home Infusion Association (NHIA), Nestrick is all-too familiar with the battle to get Medicare coverage for home infusion therapy. The Medicare Home Infusion Coverage Act of 2009, introduced last January, would require infusion supplies and services to be covered under Part B. At press time, the bills, S. 254 and H.R. 574, had 32 senators and 102 representatives signed on respectively.

The average cost to provide infusion therapy per day: $200 in the home; $300 in a skilled nursing facility (SNF); and $1,200 in a hospital, according to the NHIA.

“It would be a tremendous savings to Medicare, but they don’t see that,” he said. “If they factored in the savings under Part A, they would know the true savings. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure it out.”