Summer puts heat on providers

Sunday, July 15, 2007

YARMOUTH, Maine – With pollen counts soaring and wildfires raging, provider Alan Cross took to the airwaves in May warning lung disease patients to protect themselves against allergens.

The co-owner of Bradenton, Fla.-based C&C Homecare, does public service announcements on local TV and radio stations that run when air quality is low, warning patients to stay indoors.

“If they go out, we encourage (them) to wear a good quality air-filtration mask that will filter smoke and pollens,” said Cross.

With wildfires burning in 58 out of Florida’s 67 counties, Cross has seen an increase in referrals.

Letting patients know how weather fluctuations affect oxygen use is part of the job, said Dave Hanson, operations manager for Janesville, Wis.-based Mercy Assisted Care Medical.

“We let them know that with 89-degree heat and 90% humidity, breathing is going to be a struggle,” said Hanson. “Our RTs are always available and we make extra calls on new patients and give them more attention.”

It’s not just the patients who have trouble. Heat and humidity can wreak havoc on equipment.

“We have a higher failure rate with concentrators in the summer,” said Steve Yaeger, a manager at Los Angeles, Calif.-based CalOx. “We go out and inspect the home and make sure they are storing them correctly.”

In the humid south, Georgia Home Medical’s patients struggle with condensation build-up in their tubing.

“If they are able to take care of themselves, we recommend just getting the tubing off the floor, but if they are more feeble, we’ll come out and arrange that for them or put on water traps,” said Charles Fiveash, operations manager for the Statesboro, Ga., company.