By Amanda McElfresh, firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is brought to you by Cox Business.
Stacey Frederick still remembers one of the first patients she visited as a home nurse.
Frederick was in her 20s and already had hospital nursing experience, but she was new to the world of home health care. As she assessed the patient and discussed her condition, she realized the patient, who suffered from arthritis, needed a walker to help her get around the house.
“I was able to help her get that and it made such a difference in her life,” Frederick recalled. “She was able to get out of her bedroom and go to her kitchen and living room, which she was not able to do before. Just seeing those little things make a big difference is something that is still rewarding to me.”
Back then, the idea of patients receiving nursing care at home was still a new concept, but Frederick saw potential in it. In the mid-1990s, she seized an opportunity to become the CEO at Lafayette-based Nursing Specialties. Since then, Nursing Specialties has grown to include locations in Lafayette, Eunice, New Iberia and Breaux Bridge, as well as a hospice service based in Lafayette.
“I think we are one of the more progressive agencies when it comes to technology,” Frederick said. “We’ve developed protocols to keep patients out of the hospital. We can do so many things in the home. We can do X-rays, EKGs, IV therapy, speech therapy, social work. The list goes on. We find that the patient outcomes are better when people are in their home environment because they are more comfortable. If they do need to go to a hospital, we can facilitate that.”
Most Nursing Specialties patients are 65 or older, although the agency does treat younger adults, most of whom have a chronic condition or who have suffered a traumatic injury, such as in a car crash.
Overall, the care provided by Nursing Specialties stands out. The agency has a five-star rating from Medicare, which puts it in the highest-rated tier of home health agencies. On average, Louisiana agencies earn 3.5 stars and those across the country earn three stars. The ratings are based on measures such as managing daily activity, treating symptoms, preventing harm, preventing unplanned hospital care and value of care.
In general, the desire for home health care has increased in 2020 amid people’s fears about the novel coronavirus. Frederick said Nursing Specialties continues to treat both COVID-positive patients and people who did not contract the virus.
“We had all of our PPE before this happened, so we were prepared to go out to the homes,” she said. “On any given day, we had 120 or more clinicians in the field seeing patients. So far, not one of our employees has tested positive for COVID. I think we did a good job of educating them, preparing them and preparing our patients.”
At times, the demand for services has been so great that Frederick has done home visits herself. As the CEO, she always has to closely monitor the business and financial aspects of the company, but her nursing background still influences her decisions as well.
“I never ask somebody to do something I am not willing to do myself,” she said. “I’m out there seeing patients and following the same precautions and guidelines as everyone else. Being able to be in the field is always a good reminder that we are here to treat people.”
It’s a lesson that Frederick continues to pass on to her employees. Over the years, she has learned that hiring people with good character and strong morals leads to the best results. Experience will come with time and training, but Frederick said having a team with the right values is critical to the company’s success and positive patient outcomes.
“I always tell people, especially my younger employees, to think about what they would do if that patient was their mother or grandmother,” she said. “When a patient calls, they are calling for a reason and we need to be here to respond. It does take a different work ethic, so that’s something we always look for in people. I’m very proud of the team we have. They are great people and a great staff.”
Nursing Specialties has offices at 1025 Camellia Boulevard in Lafayette; 250 East Laurel Street, Suite C, in Eunice; 609 Jefferson Terrace, Suite 200, in New Iberia and 123 East Bridge Street in Breaux Bridge. For more information, visit www.nursingspecialties.com or call 866-665-8937.