Viewpoints: PHA President Hopes to Help Make Access to Homecare Quicker and Easier

Originally appeared in Pennsylvania Homcare Association Connections Newsletter on February 25, 2019

Few in the homecare industry can match the unique perspectives of Mia Haney, PHA’s new president. From a young girl, Mia has been involved in senior care alongside her parents who owned and operated two personal care homes. Starting out in what she calls “little ways” such as helping to serve meals to residents, Mia now serves as president of Pennsylvania Operations for All Metro Health Care – CareGivers America based in Clarks Summit.

PHA posed a number of questions to Mia about how she got started in homecare and what she hopes to accomplish over the next two years as president. This is a role she is fairly familiar with having watched her father, Paul Bartoletti, serve as PHA president from 2012 to 2013. While she may be following in her father’s footsteps, Mia certainly plans to forge new ground for herself and the association.

Q. What made you want to go into the homecare/home health profession?

A. When I was growing up, my parents owned and operated two personal care homes. My brother and I often accompanied them to work and I would help out in little ways, delivering meals in the dining room, chatting with residents in the lounge, and keeping the homes tidy.  At a young age, I had a number of friends in their 80s and 90s! However, in talking with residents, the message was always the same – the facility was nice, but they would prefer to be in their own home. My father started CareGivers America in 2002 with this in mind, and I always knew I would join him in bringing care home.  Through the years, I’ve had a number of family members call me for assistance with homecare needs. It’s never easy – the decision to let strangers into your home is challenging. Furthermore, there is a lot of coordination needed from family members to ensure that their loved one can stay home receiving home health care services. It is a complicated, but very rewarding experience when someone can live independently where they want to be.   

Q. Walk us through your progression to becoming president of CareGivers America. 

A. CareGivers America started as a family business. I helped out in little ways at first, helping to file timesheets and occasionally going out to fill shifts as a caregiver when there was a call-off.  During my college years, we considered franchising, so I assisted in writing an operations manual to instruct others on how to run a homecare business. When I decided to join the company full time, I walked in with my computer under one arm and my folding desk under another.  Titles were completely unnecessary to me. I simply wanted to learn the business and make my mark wherever I could. This was in 2008 and the industry was just preparing to license homecare agencies through the Department of Health for the first time. I became very involved in these efforts, assisting PHA in their compilation of a manual for becoming licensed in PA.  My focus naturally evolved from that point and I worked consistently on quality initiatives as well as identifying and implementing operational efficiencies. We were growing quickly and it was important that our quality was consistent from office to office. I truly enjoyed developing controls to ensure that the organization grew not only in size, but in its reputation for being a quality provider.

Q. How did you get involved with PHA? How has your membership benefited you professionally?

A. I attended their annual conferences and became involved in the efforts to license homecare agencies early on. I am a graduate of one of their leadership academies, where I met and networked with peers who ultimately became good friends of mine. More recently, I joined the Public Policy Committee and eventually became its chair.  Our membership with PHA brings great value to the organization, but above all else, the network of top-notch providers has been the best benefit to me professionally.  We lean on one another and work together to elevate the status of the homecare profession in Pennsylvania.  We’ve worked through many changes and improvements in the delivery of care of the years, and I know we will continue to do so in this ever-changing regulatory environment. 

Q. What issues do you hope to tackle during your presidency?

A. My sincere hope during my term is that we are able to make access to homecare a quicker and easier process.  The process today is challenging across all types of home health care – whether it’s the lengthy process of applying for Medicaid Waivers or the challenge of training physicians and other healthcare professionals on what is truly available through the hospice benefit – we have room to make improvements that impact our patients and help us to reach more people across our Commonwealth.

Another focus during my term will be the transition to Managed Care currently occurring in Pennsylvania.  I believe that this model has the potential to benefit patients significantly.  My hope is to work with the Managed Care plans to better meet the needs of the populations we’re serving, while achieving improved outcomes and cost-efficiency for the plans and providers.  To do this, we will need to collaborate with the plans regularly to understand their priorities and see how our providers can assist in meeting a collectively beneficial model of care for our patients.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to commit to supporting our valued caregivers and health care professionals.  I truly believe that if we support them properly, they will provide better care to happier patients and consumers.

Q. What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for PHA and for homecare in general? What do you think needs to be done to address these challenges?

A. Our biggest challenge is proving our worth across the health care continuum and making our voices heard. We need to standardize the way we collect and share data to drive outcomes for our clients. Then, we need to use that data to prove what we already know; that our services are both HEALTH effective and COST effective. What we provide prevents more costly facility based care and keeps patients where they want to be. We are the natural choice, and yet, we still struggle for the support we deserve and need to continue to serve our Commonwealth. If numbers talk, then we need to work on getting those numbers to the right people so that our programs get the funding they deserve.

Q. What has been your most memorable experience during your time in this profession?

A. When I was helping out early on in my career, I filled in as a caregiver for a private-pay client who needed transportation to a doctor’s appointment. When I arrived, the client told me he was bringing his fiancé along with him to the appointment. I didn’t think anything of it and followed his detailed directions into the Poconos where I learned that I was taking him and fiancé to a tour of their honeymoon resort, rather than a doctors’ appointment.  When we got there he told me to “get lost” for an hour while they toured the facility.  I am still laughing about it to this day – I still don’t know why he felt he needed to lie about the doctor’s appointment… I would have driven him there regardless!

Q. In your opinion, why is homecare, home health and hospice so important today and where do you see it going in the years and decades ahead?

A. Homecare, home health, and hospice are all integral parts of the health care continuum that are often under-utilized and overlooked.  We impact the patient’s well-being, outcomes, AND have the ability to save significant health care dollars in preventative, curative, and palliative care.  As we move into the future, our role will be scrutinized as health plans look for ways to deliver high quality care in a cost-effective way. We will need to be nimble and open to new ideas, practices, and payment models so that we can embrace a fundamental role in the health care delivery system. When someone is ill or aging, home based care should be the first option.

Q. As a homecare professional, what influence did your father have on your early career?

A. I always tell people that if you have the opportunity to work with your family, do it. I’ve heard horror stories, but ours was a success story. My father’s impact on my career is undeniable.  Who better to understand your capabilities and push you to realize them than a parent?  And what better motivation to strive for success than the fear of potentially disappointing your parents? My father and I truly enjoyed working together and we still “talk shop” at the dinner table from time to time.  More than anything, my father taught me to believe in my own capabilities and to surround myself with people who have the same purpose and drive. Together, we can do so much more than one person could do on their own.  

Q. What’s it like stepping into the role of PHA president previously held by your father?

A. Our industry has changed so much since my father had this role. I remember going to conferences in the past and when my father and I would walk in a room, he would be one of the few men in the room and I would be the youngest person in the room. We stood out. I’m glad to report that things have changed so much in the last few years and that room is far more diverse and ever-changing. I’m excited to start the role of PHA president because it is so different than when my father was here. I hope that my knowledge of where we’ve been combined with our board’s collective insight on where we should be going will help to guide PHA to continued success as a state association.

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