CHATTANOOGA, TN – Diane Abercrombie has seen her fair share of challenges during nearly three decades in the HME business, but nothing compared to the ruptured brain aneurysm she suffered in 2011. “They found the brain aneurism by accident,” says Abercrombie, director of HME, ContinuCare HealthServices, Chattanooga, Tenn. “They were going to go in and clip it, and in surgery it ruptured—so I was very close to death.”
These days, Abercrombie is thankful to be alive and eager to fight for the industry that she returned to after a brief retirement. As one of just three people from Tennessee represented at this year’s AAHomecare Legislative Conference, Abercrombie made her first trip to Washington, DC, to ensure that the Volunteer State had a voice.
“We are members of AAHomecare, because we value their expertise,” she says. “I’ve always been very involved in the political side, and I’ve done that for years here in Tennessee. I’ve had good relationships with our congressmen and I can go to their offices and meet with their people here in town, but I’ve never had a chance to get to D.C. Hopefully we made some good strides [see this week’s Legislative Update which describes CMS’ answer to the Tennessee delegation concerning the Face to Face Requirement].”
Competitive bidding hit the one-location ContinuCare hard, but they have managed to avoid layoffs. “There are a lot of problems with patients trying to get out of the hospital, and one company got the bid for the oxygen, but not the wheelchair, so they have to send that patient to two different companies,” laments Abercrombie (shown here in the light colored suit with Donna Bourdon, president of ContinuCare HealthServices in Washington, DC). “It’s causing lots of problems with the discharge planning. We did win bids for oxygen, CPAP and hospital beds.”
Abercrombie has not been to Medtrade in a couple of years, but she has already registered for this year’s show in Atlanta, scheduled for Oct 20-23 at the Georgia World Congress Center. “I really like seeing the new products, and getting ideas for things that we might do differently,” she says. “I’m excited to go this year. Chattanooga is 110 miles from Atlanta, so we’ll drive and stay in Atlanta.”
The road trip to Medtrade may happen on her treasured Harley Road King motorcycle, but these days Abercrombie admits to being “more careful,” particularly after her recent health scares. “I don’t want to ever have a head injury,” she muses. “I have a son and a daughter, plus a two-year-old grandson, and 22-month-old twin grand daughters.”