What started in a run-down old garage on State Street, Syracuse, has grown to more than two dozen companies and programs in a 27-county area in New York and Pennsylvania. Franciscan Companies is celebrating its 30 years of providing healthcare services in patients’ homes.

The company started in 1985 to address the respiratory and medical equipment needs of patients who were routinely being readmitted to the hospital with the same issues. Frank L. Smith, Jr., and Thomas Aiello, M.D., FACP, FCCP, created Franciscan Health Support, which is now under the Franciscan Companies umbrella.

“We foresaw that post-discharge care, at a higher level than what was currently available, would be critical to the future of the healthcare industry,” says Smith, President and CEO, Franciscan Companies. “There was a clear need for in-home care to keep people from re-entering the hospital with the same issues.”

The fact is - no one wants to be in the hospital. They want to be home.

“In-home care improves the quality of life of patients because they can recuperate in an environment in which they are comfortable and less apt to contract an infection,” Smith says. “It’s also more convenient for them because they don’t need to travel for their healthcare needs.”

All of Franciscan’s companies have been designed to provide the services, programs and equipment patients need for a better life. When it became clear that patients are aging, an eldercare program called Embracing Age was formed. Embracing Age coordinates all the medical and non-medical services an older person needs to remain living at home including transportation, home maintenance, housekeeping, fall prevention and estate planning.

In response to the need for convenient access to quality healthcare products and services, Franciscan partnered with Pulmonary Health Physicians P.C. and Kinney Drugs to establish the Healthy You Wellness Center inside the Kinney store on Butternut Street, Syracuse. Patients who are having any sort of pulmonary issue – a cold, asthma, bronchitis – can see a healthcare provider from Pulmonary Health P.C. with no appointment needed. Franciscan’s respiratory and medical equipment is also for sale at several Kinney stores and online. And, Franciscan now has a home shipping program in which CPAP equipment comes right to the patient’s door.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there will be incentives for people who take ownership of their health and stay out of the hospital. Franciscan empowers them through its TLC (Teach, Learn, Comprehend) program, which sends respiratory therapists into patients homes to teach them how to manage their condition.

“TLC is a vital program that includes the patient in the total process of their care,” says Joseph Nicoletti, RN, RRT, Franciscan Companies. “The healthcare landscape is ever-changing and it’s moving in a direction that shifts some of the wellness responsibility to the patient. TLC combines patient education with the physician’s treatment plan treatment to ensure the patient is living the best life possible.”

Patients can also find information about their disease at FranciscanCompanies.com and respiratory therapists provide free health screenings and information at events and locations through Central New York.

Although Franciscan now serves 4,000 patients daily, the company operates under the same core values as it did 30 years ago: stewardship, compassion, reverence, excellence and integrity. These remain very important to Smith. “I expect every employee to treat each patient as it they’re someone they love, someone for whom they would do anything. Patients don’t ask to be sick; sickness is disruptive to their routines,” he says. “Our job is to help them wade through that chaos and bring health and quality back to their lives.”