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Better @ Home
Home healthcare is an idea whose time has come.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 - By Heather Lee

HOME HEALTHCARE is certainly not a new idea. Before there were state-of-the-art hospitals and emergency care centers, the fabric of American medicine was defined by the image of doctors on horseback, medical bag in tow, making house calls across the prairie. Yet, while home care is the oldest form of healthcare, it is also the newest. Modern technology has allowed home healthcare to deliver many skilled procedures and services in the home, that were once only available in an acute setting. There is significant evidence that it is less costly than other forms of care, and that it is the most satisfying form of healthcare available to the American public. Little wonder that the public is demanding that it be made more available. Case in point: While doctors may not ride to your door on horseback anymore, the highly-skilled RNs from Better@Home Healthcare will. Indeed, their combined team of 30 made 9,500 home visits in 2004, traveling approximately 120,000 miles in their SUVs. (Just a different kind of horsepower, if you will!) Home healthcare is an idea whose time has come.

SOME DESCRIBE IT as a “calling” or a “passion;” for others, it is a “lifework” or “livelihood.” However you name it, as healthcare professionals, everyone at Better@Home has their own compelling reasons for choosing this line of work, and while their motives may be comprehensive and diverse, many relate to a compassionate spirit and the ability to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.When Better@Home’s owner, Patti Yancey, and I get to talk, she tells me her own history of taking care of people that began in childhood. Since then, Yancey’s nursing career has taken her from a PRN field RN, up the corporate ladder to marketing, clinical coordinator, office manager and finally landing as an administrator.

Throughout that time, Yancey says, “My husband was always encouraging me to develop my own agency with my own philosophies and standards; finally, I took his advice and jumped in!”

She started Better@Home very small, operating with just enough capital to rent a one-room office. Within three years, Yancey’s home healthcare business has grown exponentially, moving two more times to the new facility on the high traffic corner of Fort King and 25th Avenue, which is where I am sitting today.

As she speaks, Yancey is constantly disrupted by a series of phone calls, Nextel beeps, nurses in and out, faxes, emails, web alerts. Yet, never once is she without a genuine smile or warm greeting. Indeed, while I look around the office and see the decor punctuated by orange trees, candles and photos of family and friends, the words “warmth” and “home” invariably come to mind. The interruptions are just the welcome woes of a locally owned healthcare company.

Yancey isn't the only one busy. Her employees and staff, dressed in scrubs and polos bearing the Better@Home logo, are all in a constant state of controlled uproar. Their friendly voices are answering phones, both landlines and cell phones simultaneously, coordinating care between busy doctor’s offices, clients with questions, families with concerns and even amongst each other, creative brainstorming to help clients with special needs.

The overwhelming feeling is that of family. And that’s the point, exactly. Here, and in the field. On one very warm, late August morning, I spent three hours with Better@Home RN Linda Murphy visiting patients, watching her administer medications, take vitals, treat wounds and coordinate care between the doctors’ offices that refer them and the patients and their families.

While each situation was different, the feeling was the always the same: genuine care and concern. But there’s no reason to take my word for it: one local gentleman we visited, whose wife is being cared for by Better@Home as she suffers from a degenerative muscular disease, tells me, “They came when we called them, any time, day or night. I can’t say enough good about them. In fact, they’re part of our family.”

And like family, to me, the most touching moments were the simple ones, where Murphy sat, hand-in-hand, smiling and laughing as the stories unfolded joyfully over the table.

“Although we spend a great deal of time providing emotional support, we are highly skilled, trained professionals, registered nurses and therapists, and that’s important,” says Murphy. “Every day is different and we need to be able to think of our feet. If a patient’s condition suddenly changes, we need to know what we are looking at and what we are listening to during assessments to be able to react and report appropriately to the physician.

In a later conversation, Yancey echoes that point. “We are meant to function in partnership with physicians to provide a level of care and service that extends outside the hospital, rehab or doctor’s office. Home healthcare is really just an extension of care when the patient is ready to be released but still needs a measure of treatment, that’s where we come in.” Indeed, home healthcare is the fastest-growing aspect in the Medicare program. Due to a predominately aging population and the increasing prevalence of chronic disease, doctors, patients and families are choosing the option of home care more frequently. So, part of Better@Home’s mission is to educate the community about quality care.

Director of Community Education Kimberly Scudder says “My job is really easy. I expose our company to as many reputable referral sources as I can. The company does the rest; our staff speaks for itself.”

Which is really what sets Better@Home apart the people who dedicate their lives to helping others. The difference Better @ Home makes is evident from the very beginning Ñ the way Barb Green answers the phone with a highly personable demeanor; the way that the therapy team goes out of their way to accommodate patient’s needs; the way that Yancey has teamed up with CFCC’s nursing program to provide students with a home healthcare rotation that invests in the continued future of home healthcare.

“I’ve never met such a group of caring, dedicated people,” says Yancey. “We have a small, tight-knit team, but we are very passionate about our work.”

If you have questions regarding home health, feel free to call the office anytime.

Better @ Home Healthcare Professionals 2441 East Fort King St., Bldg. 100 Ocala, FL 352.694.8100 www.betterathome.net HHA#29999164

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