Amedisys Adds New Board Member; UVMHN Tabs New President

Samuels joins the Amedisys board

Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED) has named Ivanetta Davis Samuels to its board of directors. She became officially active in her role on Dec. 15.

“I am excited to welcome Ivanetta and her vast leadership experience to our Board of Directors,” Amedisys CEO and President Paul Kusserow said in a statement. “Her unique legal and public policy experience will provide our leadership team with a new and broader perspective as we continue our journey to becoming the solution for those who want to age in place.”

Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Amedisys is a provider of home health, hospice and personal care services. It operates in 39 states and Washington, D.C.

On Samuels end, she has a vast law background and is excited about the opportunity to operate on a board with various forms of voices on it.

“I am honored to join the Amedisys Board of Directors,” Samuels said in a statement. “As a woman of color who understands the importance of diverse perspectives, I am especially thrilled to be a part of a leading healthcare organization with a board composed in its majority by women, that is intentionally providing equitable and inclusive quality care to all of its patients.”

Currently, Samuels is the senior VP, general counsel and corporate secretary for Meharry Medical College. She oversees legal affairs and transactions, including litigation management, policy management, immigration services, compliance, risk management and environmental health and safety, according to the Amedisys release.

UVMHN announces new president

The University of Vermont Health Network (UVMHN) announced that Adrianne Johnson Ross had been named the next president of Home Health & Hospice as well as COO. Johnson Ross will take over for Judy Peterson, who is retiring from her post after eight years.

“For decades and throughout this pandemic, home health and hospice professionals have played a crucial role in the delivery of essential care,” Johnson Ross said. “I believe home health is central to the future of health care delivery and will continue to expand and reach more families, ensuring patients will remain as comfortable as possible while receiving care.”

UVMHN Home Health & Hospice previously operated under the name The Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties. The brand changed when it joined UVMHN in January 2018. It’s the first affiliate of the network to provide post-acute, community-based care.

The nonprofit organization delivers home health and hospice care to individuals of all ages across two dozen towns in Vermont.

“Adrianne brings an innovative mindset to help us think about our services and care delivery to our community,” Tara Pacy, chair of the home health and hospice arm’s board of directors, said in a statement. “I am excited about her energy and passion for our organization.”

Griswold Home Care’s names director of marketing

Griswold Home Care has created a new position — the director of marketing — and has hired Shelly Kanther to serve in the role.

The Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based company offers home care, personal care and respite care services as well as companion care to patients. Its network consists of 200 locations spanning 30 states.

Kanther has wide-ranging knowledge of digital marketing, most recently serving as a marketing and digital strategy consultant at the New England Appliance & Electronics Groups (NEAEG).

“Our goal to elevate and modernize the Griswold Home Care brand requires fresh eyes and a digital-first mindset,” CEO Michael Slupecki said in a statement. “Shelley’s familiarity in online strategy for local small businesses provides experience similar to working with a franchise network, while bringing innovative ideas and the shift in perspective we’ve been looking for.”

Axxess adds home care expert to senior leadership team

Axxess, the Dallas-based home health technology company, has bolstered its leadership team by hiring a non-medical, private-pay home care expert.

Patricia Drea joins the Axxess team after serving as COO of home care company Visiting Angels for 12 years. Drea also served as chair of the organization’s board of directors during that time.

“Pat will be an invaluable resource for our home care clients,” John Olajide, founder and CEO of Axxess, said in a statement. “She has more than 30 years of experience in private duty and skilled nursing, including owning and managing home care organizations and working with franchises.”

In addition to her background at Visiting Angels, Drea was the former chair of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice’s (NAHC) Private Duty Home Care Association and the CEO of At Home Total Care.

Home Care Alliance elects VP for trade group

The Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts recently elected Home Health Foundation President and CEO Karen Gomes as vice president of the board of directors.

Boston-based Home Care Alliance is a nonprofit trade association of home care agencies.

“Karen’s experience and expertise will be most welcome around our board table as we navigate these most challenging times in home care,” Pat Kelleher, executive director of the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts, said in a statement.

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Why In-Home Care Agencies Need to Rethink Their Staffing Strategies

Home-based care agencies have had to lean on technology during the COVID-19 crisis, whether they liked it or not.

In some cases, that meant conducting remote visits, even if they weren’t reimbursable under Medicare rules. In other cases, it meant having staff work from home in this new, long-term COVID-19 reality.

But telehealth platforms are not the only sort of technology that home-based care providers have benefited from during the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, providers have been leveraging online tools to curb one of the biggest challenges in the industry before the pandemic even existed: staffing.

“We cannot keep thinking about staffing in traditional ways and expect that, as an industry, we’ll see something different,” John Olajide, the president and CEO of Axxess, told Home Health Care News.

Dallas-based Axxess is a home health technology company that develops cloud-based software solutions for providers. Olajide was recently elected to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) board of directors, with his stated goal being to further aid providers with their transitions toward technological savviness.

Care challenges related to COVID-19 are the reason that 37% of surveyed agencies believe their revenue is down in 2020, according to a joint Axxess-Home Health Care News report. Over 30% of those surveyed agencies point directly to COVID-19-related staffing challenges as the cause of revenue loss.

Staffing challenges can often be mitigated by technology, however.

On Axxess’ end, it’s Axxess CARE solution finds qualified, vetted workers in areas where agencies have plenty of referrals, but not enough workers. Launched in 2017, Axxess CARE helps agencies post case times and locations on the platform, allowing clinicians to view and sign up for jobs they’re able to take.

After the job is completed, clinicians then receive payment through the CARE tool.

Generally, it’s a way for agencies to turn down fewer referrals while simultaneously finding the right aides looking for work, according to Olajide, who noted the tool has gained popularity during the ongoing public health crisis. Even if providers have sufficient full-time staff, Axxess CARE can help them fill in the blanks for cases they cannot manage in-house.

“It’s really a staffing and scheduling solution, where organizations can extend their ability to reach people and get additional staff to see their patients,” Olajide said.

Illinois-based Serenity Home Health, for instance, was able to grow its business and scale operations by using technology to help with staffing. Specifically, it used the tool to expand its footprint to 20 new zip codes in just six months.

Over 34,000 in-home care visits have been arranged through Axxess CARE thus far, according to Axxess.

Moving forward, staffing will no doubt continue to be a pain point for a great deal of agencies across the U.S. But home care operators need to understand that the situation won’t get better magically, according to Olajide.

Right now, where there are plenty of people looking for more work and a slew of agencies in every region looking to staff cases, there should be a way to bridge the gap.

“The marketplace just needed to be optimized,” Olajide said. “And COVID-19 was chaotic enough of a situation to make people really recognize that within a situation like this, you need to leverage technology a lot — and more effectively — to optimize this marketplace and match caregivers with the right skills, at the right times, with patients that need care.”

Agencies continuing with the same solutions to manage a staffing problem that never goes away is just like traditional taxi companies wondering why they’re getting less riders with an inferior product, he noted.

The staffing issue will be especially important when winter rears its head. Finding more capable workers will be necessary as flu cases coincide with a likely surge in COVID-19 cases, which will put a lot of pressure and strain on agencies and their staff.

“The data we’re looking at, it shows us that this is a marketplace-optimization challenge where we can leverage technology to really address both the demand and supply sides of the issue,” Olajide said.

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Griswold Continues Building Out Leadership Team; NAHC, HCAOA Announce Board Additions

Griswold adds to leadership team, board

Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based Griswold Home Care has named Matt Ericksen director of sales and operations.

In his new role, Ericksen will bring expertise in business development, compliance and recruitment to the team, according to the company. He was most recently the director of operations at BrightStar Care Inc., one of the largest home care franchises in the country.

On its end, Griswold — also a franchise — has 200 locations spanning 30 states.

“Matt’s expertise will be invaluable in advancing the growth of our franchise system,” Griswold CEO Michael Slupecki said in a press release. The CEO, who joined Griswold in February, hinted at a leadership hire in a recent interview with Home Health Care News

The company also announced that Christobel Selecky has joined its board of directors. Griswold nabbed Selecky after searching for a potential board member with a background in population health and social determinants of health.

Selecky serves as the board chair of Satellite Healthcare — a provider of kidney dialysis services — and also serves as a board member for ImmunityBio and Teleperformance.

Axxess CEO elected to NAHC’s board

John Olajide, the founder and CEO of Axxess, has been elected to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) board of directors. His term begins in January and will last three years.

Axxess is a developer of cloud-based software solutions in home health, home care and hospice.

“Technology is so critical to the success of the industry,” Olajide told Home Health Care News. “Technology partners are integral to how things work. They can no longer be seen as just vendors. … Providers can’t deliver incredible service without good tech partnerships, so it was great [to be elected] to the board.”

Washington, D.C.-based NAHC is a nonprofit advocacy organization that represents over 33,000 home care and hospice providers across the U.S.

HouseWorks CEO named to HCAOA’s board

Andrea Cohen, the founder and CEO of at-home care company HouseWorks, has been elected to the board of directors for the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA). She will begin her term in January.

Washington, D.C.-based HCAOA represents thousands of home care agencies across the U.S.

On its end, Boston-based HouseWorks was founded in 2002 by Cohen herself. The agency — which offers both non-medical home care and home modification services — serves communities in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Maine.

“I’m honored to have been elected by my peers in the home care industry to serve on the HCAOA board of directors,” Cohen said. “When I started my career and served on the National Private Duty Association board – the precursor to HCAOA — home care was in its infancy; today, the industry is recognized for its professionalism and for the valuable role it plays in allowing adults to age at home.”

A social entrepreneur, Cohen also serves on the board of The Commonwealth Institute, the Schwartz Center Leadership Council and the Caregiver Action Network. She is also an appointee to the Massachusetts Women Forum.

“HCAOA has been indispensable during COVID-19, connecting home care providers so we can share ideas for how to protect our caregivers and provide the safest and best care to our clients,” she said. “I look forward to working more closely with my colleagues to elevate our vital work.”

Montachusett Home Care names CMO

The Montachusett Home Care Corporation (MHCC) announced that David Ginisi has been named as the company’s chief marketing officer.

Leominster, Massachusetts-based MHCC offers personal care services to seniors, as well as homemaking, chore help and adult day health.

Ginisi will oversee the organization’s digital strategy and help increase messaging and outreach to the 21 communities in Massachusetts that the company works with.

“We are excited to welcome David to our leadership team,” MHCC CEO Lori Richardson said in a press release. “David will be a tremendous asset to our agency with his drive for community engagement and his extensive proven marketing and outreach experience.”

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Budgeting for the Future: Kindred at Home, Johns Hopkins Home Care and Always Best Care Look Ahead to 2022

As home health leaders look to the future, the lessons learned from the COVID-19 emergency will likely continue to shape their efforts for years to come.

In terms of business planning, it will likely be a long while before there’s a return to a world where the coronavirus isn’t the central driver of health care strategy, outcomes and cost.

“We realize the current situation is not really going away anytime soon,” Mary Gibbons Myers, president and CEO of Johns Hopkins Home Care Group Inc., said Wednesday. “We’ll continue to be flexible, creative and resilient.”

Myers made her comments at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice’s 2020 Financial Management Conference, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 emergency.

For Baltimore, Maryland-based Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, utilizing lessons learned from the public health emergency and understanding how it fits into the company’s business model moving forward has been crucial.

“For example, prior to the pandemic, we were preparing for a huge expansion of our facilities,” Myers said. “What we realized is that we really did not need as much space as we thought. We moved that mindset from expansion to contraction and making sure our employees have the optimal experience for the non-patient-facing to be able to do that remotely.”

The COVID-19 emergency also served as a catalyst for innovation for Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, according to Myers.

“In a matter of weeks, we expanded our remote patient monitoring program exponentially to meet the needs of our health system by monitoring COVID-positive patients,” she said. “We are actively discussing strategies to further remote patient monitoring over the years to come with or without COVID.”

Johns Hopkins Home Care Group falls under the larger umbrella of Johns Hopkins Health System’s Home & Community-Based Services division, which includes four Medicare-certified home health agencies, two private-duty companies, a large home medical equipment company, 10 outpatient specialty pharmacies and three alternative care infusion sites.

Similar to Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, Always Best Care Inc. has also scaled back in terms of office space, in relation to the COVID-19 emergency.

Roseville, California-based Always Best Care is a home care franchise company that operates across 209 territories in 30 states.

As part of its COVID-19 strategy, Always Best Care has placed a greater emphasis on infection control — something that will play a larger role for all in-home care providers in 2020 and beyond, according to Sheila Davis, the company’s senior executive vice president of operations.

“One thing that we have learned within our businesses is that you have to be mindful of — and protective of — not only the clients but also of your employees as well,” Davis said at the Financial Management Conference.

While infection control has always been a major aspect of home health, the public health emergency has pushed this to center stage on the non-medical home care side as well.

Additionally, amid the COVID-19 emergency, there have been a number of regulatory exceptions, waivers and other changes.

For Kindred at Home, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and its move to broaden the definition of “homebound” under home health rules has been critical, according to David Causby, the company’s president and CEO. CMS’s goal in the expanded definition was to expand access to home health services, especially to populations at heightened risk for contracting COVID-19.

“This is something the home health industry has been pushing for an extended period of time,” Causby said at the Financial Management Conference. “I think with COVID and … the homebound status relief, we’re really starting to see some real qualitative outcomes, in regards to being able to treat seniors in their home.”

Atlanta-based Kindred at Home provides home health, personal care and community care services in almost 800 locations across 40 states. The provider organization also offers hospice care, palliative care, skilled nursing services, social services and therapy services.

Ranked at the largest home health provider in the country in 2019 by LexisNexis, Kindred at Home operates under the umbrella of Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM)

Like many providers, Kindred at Home has leaned on telehealth use during the COVID-19 emergency. But Causby believes more relief around telehealth use for home health care is needed.

“While there’s no reimbursement associated with that today, we believe continuing to demonstrate the outcomes and the value of this will be something that, hopefully, CMS will take a look at in the long run,” he said.

Aside from lessons learned, the three Financial Management Conference panelists shared a sneak peek of what they will be prioritizing in their companies’ annual budgets for 2022.

One common theme among the home health leaders — technology.

Kindred at Home’s focus will also be on redesigning the company’s clinical innovative programs.

“We will be focusing on building out new clinical design programs that will have a lot of the technology associated with it,” Causby said. “We’re already starting to look at how we would redesign those clinical innovative programs to possibly care for seniors over a much longer period of time. The ability for these patients not to have to end up back in the ER or an acute setting will change how clinicians think about being task-oriented.”

On the vendor side, all of this means budgeting for more growth.

“As a technology provider, we are budgeting for even more growth next year,” John Olajide, founder and CEO of Axxess Technology Solutions, said at the event. “We’re continuing to hire as our business grows rapidly, not just in the U.S. but globally as well. We’re also continuing our strategic partnerships around expanding all our interoperability solutions to ensuring that our clients are positioned for success long term.”

Additionally, John Hopkins Home Care Group has plans to invest heavily in skilled-nursing-at-home models and hospital-at-home models.

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