Our Opinion: A brighter Porchlight


In an increasingly volatile health care world, small, successful nonprofits can find increased stability by merging with like-minded organizations. That is in essence what brought about the merger between PorchlightVNA/Home Care of Lee and a sister organization in Chicopee.

The new entity, Porchlight VNA/Home Care, will be headquartered in Lee, with CEO Holly Chaffee remaining in that position and Chicopee's top two officials serving as CFO and COO. A year in the making, the merger will evidently not involve layoffs of the 300 employees involved, 200 of whom serve the local VNA.

Mergers are becoming the trend in this field, in large part because of shrinking reimbursements. Success can even become somewhat of a detriment, as profitable organizations face losses in federal funding when scarce health dollars are redirected elsewhere. Large corporations, generally not known for attention to a community's needs, are also swallowing up these smaller organizations.

This merger should enable the two well-regarded VNAs to better address funding issues and respond to competitors. The Lee visiting nurses association built a county-wide reputation for quality care over the years, and while losing the Lee name is certainly painful, the title speaks to the rebranding of a Berkshire organization that now also serves a larger portion of Western Massachusetts.

Increasingly, people want to be treated for medical problems at home where they are comfortable and can avoid the expense of institutional medical treatment. Skilled visiting nurses and quality home care will become even more important, and with the merger, Porchlight VNA/Home Care is better situated to provide that kind of treatment in the decades ahead.


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