New provider brings healthcare to patients' doorsteps
There are many great reasons people choose to live and work in the rural areas that Great Lakes Energy serves. These areas offer room to enjoy nature and outdoor activities, less traffic and noise than more populated areas, and many other great benefits.
However, living in rural areas also presents some challenges. Trips to the store are often farther, your road might not get plowed as regularly in the winter, and access to some types of services – such as healthcare is much more limited.
These challenges can be especially difficult to overcome for senior citizens who often see their need for regular healthcare increase as their mobility and transportation options may be decreasing.
However, a provider that recently began operating in southern portions of GLE’s service area is bridging this gap by bringing healthcare right to people’s doorstep.
As part of its ongoing efforts to fulfill the cooperative guiding principle of “concern for community” and to provide added value for its members, GLE is helping to get the word out to members who live in these communities about a service that could make an important difference in their lives.
A different approach to healthcare
Homeward Health has been providing healthcare in portions of western Michigan since the summer of 2022. The company currently offers care to residents living in 15 Michigan counties including 11 that are part of GLE’s service area including Allegan, Lake, Manistee, Mecosta, Missaukee, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Ottawa, Osceola, and Wexford. Homeward anticipates its coverage area in Michigan will expand over time and encourages anyone interested to call (844) 578-4535 to verify their eligibility. The company offers primary healthcare through in-home, telehealth, mobile clinic, and brick-and-mortar clinic appointments to patients enrolled in Medicare.
Who is Homeward Health?
Homeward Health’s Jake Mazanke said the company’s mission is to bridge the increasing gap in primary healthcare accessibility for people – especially senior citizens – living in rural areas. He pointed to research showing that people living in rural areas have a 23% higher mortality rate than people living in more populated areas.
Susan Owen, a nurse practitioner with more than 40 years of healthcare experience, was the first clinical staff member to join Homeward Health’s Michigan team in 2022.
Susan said new patients are often surprised by the level and types of care Homeward Health can provide for them. She said patients are also reassured to learn that Homeward Health regularly coordinates care with specialists and other services not available directly through Homeward.
“We run into people who haven’t been getting the care they should be getting because of the distances involved. For some people, 20 miles can be a deal-breaker,” she said.
She said caregivers work with patients to address any chronic health problems that they might be facing while also providing preventative care.
“We have a powerful team who really care, and it’s very rewarding when we see improvement in our
A powerful endorsement
The suggestion to highlight Homeward Health’s services for GLE members comes from a source well-known to the cooperative. Linda Kotzian retired from GLE in 2020 after a 26-year career. Linda, who lives in the Shelby area, worked as a communications services manager out of GLE’s Hart office.
Linda said Homeward Health’s services first caught her eye after reading a magazine article about the company in mid-2022. Although she was initially a bit skeptical, in early 2023, some frustrations with her current healthcare provider prompted her to give Homeward Health a try.
“I was having to drive about 20 miles away, and when you get there, you have to navigate a large building and sit with a bunch of other sick people,” Linda said. “There have been times I felt too sick to drive, but I didn’t have an alternative,” Linda said.
As luck would have it, on a Sunday about a week before her first scheduled in-home appointment with Homeward Health, Linda fell and injured her shoulder. Not knowing what to expect, Linda called Homeward Health, and about an hour later a caregiver called her back. After the consultation, the caregiver recommended that Linda go to the ER for an x-ray. A day or two later she received a call from Homeward Health to check on her.
In all, Linda has now had about eight appointments – mostly online, and she has been very pleased with the care she’s received.
“I’m a huge fan. It’s made life better for me because they are available on very short notice. Generally, I hear from them in a matter of hours. Literally from the first appointment, there was no going back,” she said.
Following her positive experiences with Homeward Health, Linda wanted to let other GLE members know about its availability.
“Anything that can make seniors feel safer and more comfortable in their homes and make it possible to stay in our homes longer is worth promoting,” she added.
Getting to know you
To help introduce Homeward Health and the services it offers to GLE members in the southern half of our service area, GLE will host a visit from a Homeward Health mobile clinic at its Newaygo office from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17. The office is located at 1 Cooperative Center Drive in Newaygo.
During the visit, Homeward Health staff will be accepting scheduled visits from current patients and accepting walk-in appointments from both new and existing patients.
Additionally, a physician assistant with Homeward Health, who is certified in Lifestyle Medicine, will be on-site throughout the day to meet with people and answer questions.
Both new and existing Homeward Health patients can make an appointment for the mobile clinic visit on Oct. 17 by calling (844) 279-8615. Patients must be enrolled in Medicare to take advantage of Homeward Health’s services. Homeward Health is “in-network” for most major Medicare Advantage plans. To learn more about Homeward Health, including how to become a patient, visit homeardhealth.com or call (844) 939-5099.
Member testimonial provided under a personal services agreement, with expenses paid for by Homeward in compliance with federal healthcare regulations.