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Knute Nelson providing home care

Knute Nelson Home Care staff includes, from left, branch manager Sarah Luther, a registered nurse; home health aide Angie Symanietz and RNs Sarah Ann Ahrendt and Kathy Fitzpatrick. An open house is planned from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17 in the office located at 104 Park Ave. (Highway 71) North, Suite 102. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Knute Nelson staff is now providing personalized home care to individuals within a 40-mile radius of Park Rapids, the base of operations.

Clients range from infants to the elderly, explained branch manager Sarah Luther, a registered nurse. Two RNs and a home health aide comprise the staff, serving clients on a 24-hour basis, seven days a week.

"Admissions have been steady," Luther said of the 29 patients now being served. "Our goal is to make it easy to receive home care." Knute Nelson strives to complete same-day admissions. "The client comes first."

Referrals come from doctors, clinics, hospitals, the county, nursing homes and the patients themselves, she explained of the nonprofit, Christian-based organization with seven branch offices in north central Minnesota.

"Our main goal is to keep patients in the home - safely," Luther stressed, "preventing hospital re-admission and nursing home admission.

"We collaborate with the hospital to prevent re-admission," she said.

Skilled nursing is provided for medical needs; a home health aide assists with personal care needs and homemaking. Physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy help patients with functional needs, Luther said, "to help insure recovery at home."

The nurses "assess the situation," making visits based on the individual. Nurses help with doctor appointments and medication, via a dispensary machine that's hooked up to a phone line, monitoring use.

"We match what the doctor ordered and teach people how to take medication correctly," Luther said.

Knute Nelson also offers a Personal Emergency Response System. Should a patient fall, for example, a contact is made to assure the patient is not injured.

"We are entering their domain," Luther stressed of entering client's homes. "We work with what best suits them, care based on a personal level."

The "tasks" include a range of services - cardiac and blood pressure monitoring and IV therapy as well as management of chronic illnesses, such as congestive heart failure, diabetes, emphysema, pneumonia, asthma, cancer and others.

"From IVs to wound care, we provide high levels of care so people can remain in their homes while receiving treatment," she said. Technology allows the nurses to monitor vital signs from afar - including vital signs, weight and other health factors.

The arrival of Knute Nelson in Park Rapids followed St. Joseph's Area Health Services' decision to discontinue home care last year.

The hospice program will continue, explained Deb Haagenson, St. Joseph's vice president for Patient Care. Pressure to reduce costs drove the decision, she said.

"St. Joseph's was impacted by the economic downturn," she said, as well as declining payments from Medicare and other sources.

Knute Nelson will host an informational open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17 at their office in the Park Rapids Business Center, located a block north on Highway 71.

RSVP to sarah.luther by Thursday, Jan. 10 to be eligible for the drawing of a gift card.