Munson Health
Thursday, November 10, 2011 - Munson Home Health Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Munson Home Health Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Beginning with 24 patients in 1961, the agency now serves thousands


There was a time when all that healthcare had to offer was delivered at home.

Some things stay the same, even in this ever-changing healthcare environment. Munson Home Health is the community home health care provider that has been delivering quality care in the home for 50 years and is still going strong.

Its 450 employees travel more than 2 million miles a year across 17 counties offering a variety of services that allow people to stay in the familiar surroundings of their home despite chronic illness or debilitating injury.

“The caring staff at Munson Home Health realizes the benefits to patients in receiving care at home surrounded by their loved ones in familiar environments” said Shari McLennan, MSN, RN, MBA, Munson Home Health President. “We can do complicated wound care, ventilators, infusions, and many other patient procedures that allow northern Michigan residents to remain in their homes and receive the care they need.”

The beginnings of Munson Home Health’s role in community caring can be traced back to a meeting in 1957 when a committee was appointed by the president of the Munson Medical Center Medical Staff to study a proposal for rehabilitation medicine made by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

In June 1961, The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine was formed at the then James Decker Munson Hospital. The department featured a part-time medical director, social service worker, and secretary. The first year, 24 patients were treated.

Early objectives were to provide the use of home care services for patients discharged from James Decker Munson Hospital or the Grand Traverse Medical Care Facility.

In April 1963, Home Care services were expanded to residents in three counties who were not previously hospitalized. That year the Home Aid Program launched to help those in need manage the household, prepare meals, and other household chores.

The service also included physical therapy, occupational therapy, premature infant service transportation, social services, and an education program. It later grew to include a speech therapy program and amputee program that included an independent prosthetist-orthotist who was recruited to Traverse City by the Rehabilitation Department.

McLennan said the agency made 68 house calls during its first six months of existence in 1961. In 2010, 50,000 house calls were made.

Munson Home Health now includes:

  • Munson Home Care which offers skilled nurses, therapists, aides, and social workers under a physician’s direction to provide short-term care for patients who require skilled care and are homebound because of illness, injury, or surgery.
  • Munson Hospice provides compassionate, end-of-life care to patients and families. The professional staff and more than 200 dedicated volunteers offer comfort, peace, and support at home. Education, counseling, and emotional support are provided to patients and caregivers during these difficult times.
  • Munson Hospice House is an eight-bed home that provides another alternate to in-home hospice care. Built in 2004 entirely through donations, the beautiful home not only provides a peaceful environment, but staffs with nurses, home health aides and volunteers to provide quality, 24-hour end-of-life care to patients and families.
  • Munson Palliative Medicine program guides patients and families who are facing debilitating and life threatening illness through difficult conversations and choices about treatment to minimize suffering and provide support for individuals of all ages. The palliative medicine team staffed by nurse practitioners and physicians, provide expert patient evaluation, symptom management, patient healthcare goal clarification, as well as advanced care plan development, and patient and family education and family conferencing.
  • Munson Home Services, Private Duty provides help at home on a long-term or temporary basis to fulfill a patient's personal needs, as well as help with household tasks. Based on an in-home Care Needs Assessment, a registered nurse develops a personal service plan to meet the individual client and family’s needs and requests.
  • Munson Home Medical Equipment offers wheelchairs, hospital beds, oxygen, and diabetic supplies, in-home medical equipment and supplies, and much more, all conveniently delivered to the patient’s home.

“While milestones are important reminders of where we’ve been, we continue to stay focused on adapting to the needs of our patients today,” McLennan said. “We have great staff who genuinely care about their patients and families, and believe that delivering high quality care is the goal.  The nice part is we are part of the communities we serve.  We live here too.  We are the local community home health care, and we serve patients right where they live – in their homes.” 

Anyone who would like to share a story about their experience with Munson Home Health over the years may call 1-800-252-2065.