Serving our South County Community
This year was an interesting year of growth and change. Our dedicated team of nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language therapists, social workers, nursing assistants, COTAs, and PTAs provide exceptional care to our patients daily. Their work is enhanced by our Palliative Care Program, Therapeutic Adult and Pediatric Programs, and other programs we have available to our patients.
Through ongoing relationships and collaboration, we strive as an organization to bring the highest-quality care to our patients at home. Some of our achievements and program highlights include:
- Senior Health Checks: South County Home Health offers free community “senior health” checks in over 20 senior centers. The goal of this program is to engage senior participants to manage their chronic health issues. Our Health Check nurse facilitates evidence-based programs, which include “Living Well with Chronic Disease,” “Living Well with Chronic Pain,” and “Living Well with Diabetes” throughout the Washington and Kent counties. In 2020, we successfully completed 14 flu clinics in our community. We received a grant from the Dime Bank Foundation to support us with some of this work, and Rhonda, one of our Home Health nurses, successfully held some of these classes virtually. See her story on page 31.
- Telemedicine Program: Telemedicine has been a critical component of SCHH programs since 2001. This technology allows for SCHH to have daily clinical oversight of patients in their homes. The information transmitted form the patient’s home includes vital signs, weight, and answers to individualized daily questions designed to identify early symptoms of a worsening health condition. The Resideo telemedicine program has become a standard of care for all of our COPD and heart failure patients and has greatly reduced our hospital readmission rate among this patient population.
- Interdisciplinary Care Teams: This year we transitioned to two interdisciplinary care teams: Southern and Central led by Kelly Pucino, RN, and Kendra Daigneault, RN, respectively. The goal is to strengthen care planning around disciplines such as PT, OT, RN and SLT, and to continue our model of a patient-centric care model. We are also fortunate to now have our clinical and quality educator, Jessica Garvey, on our team as a central resource to grow and educate staff on our new programs. As a hospital system, we proudly recognized Jessica Garvey as Employee of the Year in 2020 for South County Health.
- Intake Department: Kathie Graichen transitioned this year to the role of Intake team leader. She is instrumental in developing new processes and strategies related to our intake department and strengthening team collaboration within the organization. Kathie has also taken on the lead of our scheduling department.
This year presented challenges with COVID-19, as we implemented best practices and optimized the use of protective equipment such as masks, gowns, and gloves. We are working closely with the hospital and the Rhode Island Department of Health to take the best care of our most vulnerable patient population. We also implemented a COVID-19 team to care for patients by developing heightened screening. Using videoconferencing, we continued to communicate effectively with patients when a personal visit was not possible.
The challenges of providing home care for over 4,800 patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic brought the team together. Our Home Health team understood the need to open lines of communication with Home Health patients to assure them that their needs would be addressed and ensure that Home Health staff used the infection prevention protocols in place to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, as well as to avoid contracting it themselves.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause additional challenges, including patients’ ability to see their medical providers in their offices, obtaining food, supplies, and medicines. However, this also opened up opportunities for our Home Health team to examine what we do and how we do it and adopt changes that might actually improve the way home care is delivered.
As we grow our programs, we seek to not only improve the services available to our patients but also merge into expanded rural territories such as Block Island. This year, we hired an RN who resides on the island, and we plan to continue to grow relations there with the Block Island Medical Center. We understand the significant need to serve a Medicare population of over 1,000 residents who are moving into their summer homes as full-time residents during this pandemic.
Our philosophy is focused on “patient-centered” care, where the patient comes first. We provide care in a team-based approach, where everyone on the team is critical to the success of our patients and our agency.
We continue to focus on implementing quality and patient safety metrics, along with growth strategies. We have implemented a daily visual management board and review key critical metrics bi-weekly with the performance improvement team. We have a quality team that meets regularly to review these metrics and a patient experience team to ensure that the patients we serve are satisfied with our services and continue to ask for us as their preferred Home Care provider.
For over 100 years, South County Home Health has been a vital part of caring for our Washington County residents. We design our programs and services to meet the ever-changing and diverse needs of our population so they can maintain wellness. We strive to continue to be the “most trusted Home Health agency” for Washington County and beyond.