Leslie Turk

LHC Group expands in states of Washington, Alabama

by Leslie Turk

Lafayette-based LHC Group Inc. has expanded its footprint in the states of Washington and Alabama. The local publicly traded company is one of the largest providers of home health services in the country.

The company announced today that it entered into a home health business relationship with Northeast Washington Health Programs Association to provide home health services in the Chewelah, Wash., area. The service area, which covers four counties in the state of Washington, has an estimated population of 506,000, with almost 13 percent over the age of 65. Net revenue for the Chewelah, Wash., agency during the most recent 12 months was approximately $2.5 million.

NEWHP is a private non-profit health care organization providing medical, dental, home health, hospice and assisted living services. NEWHP offers primary and preventive health care through physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and registered nurses. Services are provided in five life cycle groups: prenatal care, pediatric, adolescent, adult and geriatric.

NEWHP is a Federally Qualified Health Center and is LHC Group’s first business relationship with this type of organization. A FQHC is a reimbursement designation that refers to several health programs funded under the Health Center Consolidation Act (Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act). FQHCs are community-based organizations that provide comprehensive primary care and preventive care regardless of patients' ability to pay. They were originally meant to provide comprehensive health services to the medically underserved to reduce the patient load on hospital emergency rooms.

LHC Group also announced that it has entered into a home health joint venture with Coosa Valley Medical Center to provide home health services in Sylacauga, Ala, area, covering seven counties in Alabama with an estimated population of approximately 482,000. Almost 13 percent of the population is over the age of 65. Net revenue for the agency during the most recent 12 months was approximately $1.1 million. Sylacauga is 40 miles southeast of Birmingham. The medical center consists of 163 acute care beds, 85 long-term care beds and home care services.

Both Washington and Alabama are certificate of need states, which means a legal document must be issued by a regulatory agency affirming that a proposed acquisition, expansion, or creation of a facility is required to fulfill the needs of a community. Neither transaction is expected to add materially to LHC Group’s earnings in 2009.