Bankruptcy Forces Change For Patients On Home-Care

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Alpha-Omega Home Health Services of Arizona, one of two home health agencies in Payson, folded this week, displacing 85 patients locally and 2,000 statewide.

Alpha-Omega administrators in Payson were notified Monday that the statewide company couldn't meet payroll and was on the verge of bankruptcy.

But half of Payson's 40-member staff continued to work this week without pay to make sure local patients continued to receive care during their transfer to Payson Regional Medical Center's home-health program, the only other home health-care agency in town.

"We're hoping to have all of our patients officially transferred by Friday night," said Alpha-Omega spokesperson Lorna Hansen, who will be on call next week to troubleshoot patient problems.

PRMC's home-health-care agency began hiring Alpha-Omega nurses Thursday to handle the sudden influx of patients.

"We want this transition to be seamless for the patients," PRMC Assistant C.E.O. Missy Spencer said. "I know some of the patients are probably a little concerned about the change, but they won't see any decrease in patient services. We're happy to take care of them."

Patients who rent medical equipment from Alpha-Omega won't be required to return the equipment until a new company can provide replacements, Hansen said.

Earlier this week, local staff members rallied a last-minute investors' drive to raise the $600,000 the firm needed to keep its eight offices open around the state.

Payson staff members chipped in $20,000 from their own bank accounts and solicited larger investors, Hansen said, but they received word from company executives Thursday that the firm couldn't be saved.

The company's collapse has left 40 full- and part-time employees out of work in Payson and a total of 400 workers unemployed statewide.

Alpha-Omega is expected to go into receivership this week, Hansen said.

The company, which was struggling with debt and cash-flow problems, was crippled last week when a subcontractor placed a lien on the firm's liquid assets and a potential investor withdrew a $1.2 million investment offer, Hansen said.

The company needed an infusion of cash to pay off its creditors and meet operating obligations, she said, but the firm's most promising investor backed out at the last minute. That was immediately followed by the lien, she said, which effectively froze the company's cash flow and cut the firm off at the knees.

"We could have survived one of those hits, but not both," she said.

Alpha-Omega, which has been in Payson for five years, has served more than 2,000 patients in the Rim country.

For patients such as 76-year-old James Sanders of Payson, who was gripped by pneumonia last month, Alpha-Omega meant the difference between recovering at home and convalescing in a care center.

"I thought they were very good," he said. "I had pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer and arthritis -- a whole bunch of things all at once. A nurse came in two or three times a week and checked all my vitals. They were really good."

Alpha-Omega's home-health nursing program also was a great relief for Sanders' wife, Teema.

"When Jim first came home, he was still on oxygen and he needed more care than I could provide," she said. "It was a godsend to have them. They were all so caring."

Alpha-Omega patients with questions or concerns can call Hansen at 474-1552 or page her at 472-0108, or they can call PRMC Home-Health Director Dorene Redfern at 472-5245.

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