Eau Claire (WQOW) - Wednesday evening Lifenet, an Eau Claire Health care provider, announced plans to shut its doors.
Thursday, WQOW News 18 spoke with the president of the agency. He explained the decision, and talks about what's next for the 400 clients Lifenet serves.
Jeff Fresia, the President of Lifenet, says, "It was a very difficult decision, and it's been over a year in the making."
After 19 years of service, Jeff Fresia, the president of Lifenet, announced the agency will close its doors. March 26th is the last day. He says, "The straw that broke the camels back is that my wife and I have not been getting paid regularly from the government agencies that we service. They currently owe us a great deal of money, into the six figures."
Fresia and his wife Mary say they've been using their retirement fund to keep things afloat. "I have to meet a weekly payroll, my employees are paid weekly, we've never missed a payroll but we're running out of our own personal resources," says Fresia.
Fresia says reimbursement rates were another factor in the decision. He says they are reimbursed a little over sixteen dollars an hour by Wisconsin Medicaid and that number hasn't increased in 11 years
"The reimbursement rate has to go up, we have to be adequately compensated for what we do. We can't be treated like some second class citizens. I get reimbursed less for a nurse going out, than a plumber going out. So, to me, my body is a little more important than my toilet," says Fresia.
Lifenet has 120 employees spread throughout the twelve counties it currently operates in. Lifenet employee, Nancy Florence says, "I heard it on Monday morning, at our morning report, just like everyone else did here. We were all frankly, shocked and stunned to hear the news."
Fresia says, "We're asking our employees to stay with the clients, to transition over to another agency, so there will be minimal impact."
As for the 400 clients they serve, Fresia says, "We're going to do everything in our power to make sure they find another agency and receive the care that they need. This is the reason we got into business, not to make a killing, but to service people and service people in need."
Another provider in Eau Claire, Community Health Partnership, recently closed. The state then chose a new long-term provider for many of those clients.
WQOW News 18 reached out to the state Department of Health Services Monday, who says that the money is there to pay providers, but said any issue a provider had with payments would be traced back to its managed care organization.
Eau Claire (WQOW) - Wednesday brings tough news for the local economy: a home health care provider in Eau Claire is shutting down. 120 jobs will be lost.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Lifenet announced it will close its doors in March. The main office is on West Clairemont. The president sent a notice to the Department of Workforce Development. In it, he says Lifenet would close by March 26th. There was no word on why it's closing. Lifenet's clients include the elderly, those with disabilities and those with mental illness. The business covers several counties in western Wisconsin and works with both adults and children.
Another provider in Eau Claire, Community Health Partnership, recently closed. The state then chose a new long-term provider for many of those clients, Southwest Family Care Alliance.
Eau Claire (Press Release) - Lifenet, LLC and Lifenet Supportive Services, LLC ("Employer"), which employs employees at 1280 West Clairemont Avenue, Suite 5, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 45701, intends to permanently cease operations by the close of business Tuesday, March 26, 2013 and close the employment site. At this time, the number of employees anticipated to be impacted is 120.
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