21 Guilford County children losing home health care services

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Twenty-one children in Guilford County are about to lose their daily home health care.

Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro, a community-based nonprofit, decided to cut its home health care services at the end of the month. Parents found out about the decision in a letter sent to their email Monday.

Some families have relied on its services for the past 15 years. They say they feel blindsided by this decision and don't know where they're going to get proper care for their kids.

"They have been wonderful to us and it just shocks me that our goodbye comes in the form of a certified letter," said Jill Jenkins, whose 21-year-old daughter is enrolled in home health care.

The home visits end on Nov. 30 and parents say they're scrambling to find care of their seriously, and in some cases terminally, ill children.

Moira Ermentrout, 5, has a degenerative brain disease called Pontocerebellar hypoplasia. She's non-verbal and can't walk on her own.

"It's a terminal illness," said Dania Erementrout, Moira's mom.

Moira doesn't qualify for hospice, but she still needs around-the-clock care. She's one of the 21 children in Guilford County enrolled in the home health component of the "Kids Path" program who will no longer get care.

"It's just such a loss. They're like family. They're part of our family," Erementrout said.

For the last four-and-a-half years, a highly specialized nurse and social worker have helped the Ermentrout family with care at a moment's notice.

"They helped our family cope with everything and guide us through really, really difficult times," Erementrout said.

The care is just one part of the Kids Path program. The other services will continue, including hospice care, grief counseling and CAP/C Medicaid Waiver Case Management. Those services reach hundreds of local kids every year.

But according to a letter to parents from Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro, the home health program isn't financially sustainable. It reads, "A plan is in effect to transition the 21 children who receive this type of supportive care to an alternative home health provider of their family's choice."

Parents like Erementrout say that choice isn't out there. They're not just frustrated with the late notice about the services ending, they're devastated to be losing such a valuable program.

"This program is model program for children who are experiencing grief and who are medically fragile," she said. "There is no better program. This is it. Kids Path is the program."

"I am shocked and appalled that Hospice would chose to close down this invaluable service, with no notice to the vulnerable families affected," Cassidy MacKay, another parent affected, wrote to FOX8. "This program has provided a comprehensive, compassionate, knowledgeable service to our family and the decision to shut it down and leave us and the other families floundering after receiving such amazing care is just heartless."

The letter goes on to say, "Our staff developed a communications plan to announce this decision as soon as it was appropriate."

Parents say two weeks notice isn't enough time.

"I think this was a total failure of organizational leadership. There's no other way to put it," Erementrout said.

FOX8 called Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro and asked if they wanted to talk on camera about the decision to end the home health program.

They sent us this statement, which reads:

"Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro is proud to help meet the health and support needs of thousands of families in our community. We are closing one component of our Kids Path program in order to more effectively use our resources and serve even more families. While the timing of this transition was accelerated due to a change in the availability of our qualified pediatric home health nursing staff, we have a plan in place that can connect all 19 impacted families with qualified home health care providers."