Peninsula Home Care putting patients first – Ahead of the storm

Stacy Ellis, RN Clinical Manager, and Physical Therapist Tito Santos go over patient data at Peninsula Home Care to stay on top of their needs.

Stacy Ellis, RN Clinical Manager, and Physical Therapist Tito Santos go over patient data at Peninsula Home Care to stay on top of their needs.

SALISBURY — Snow in the forecast calls for empty shelves at the grocery store, a boost in kitty litter sales and school cancellations. The staff at Peninsula Home Care have a different priority when it comes to preparing for a storm — the people they serve.

“It is our responsibility to stay one step ahead of a storm to ensure the safety of our patients and staff,” said Nancy Bagwell, Peninsula Home Care branch director. “This includes making sure we can continue operations as a home care agency no matter what Mother Nature brings.”

The director’s work starts before the storm hits. Both Bagwell, who oversees the Maryland branch offices and Robyn Coughenour, Delaware branch director, initiate a calling tree to their teams a few days out from the predicted weather event. They discuss plans to care for the 350 patients and additional pending patients on record between the three PHC branches in Wicomico, Worcester and Sussex counties. The teams assign acuity numbers, ranging from 1 to 3 to every patient, with #1’s being the most critical.

“Our #1’s need to be seen the day before a storm hits, added Bagwell. “These are patients who may need a fasting lab, IV antibiotics, and chemotherapy or wound care. The #2’s and 3’s will be seen but can last a few days until skilled services are needed.”

Peninsula Home Care makes a call to every patient to make sure they have the basics covered.

“Do they have enough medication, electricity, heat, food, water, and a family member or friend to check on them? They have our phone number and can call anytime of the day or night for any reason.”

While some team members are making calls to patients, others are printing out hard copies of critical patient information including doctors, diagnosis, medications and treatment plans. Peninsula also has emergency kits equipped with water, phones, radios and plans for an alternative off-site location where staff can convene if the branch office is compromised by weather. All staff are prepared with lists of shelters, radio stations and emergency service phone numbers to share with patients and caregivers.

“Unlike some who go into hibernation when the weather gets bad, we have to stay on the ball and focused on the task at hand — putting patients first.”

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