A new home health division at Gulfside

Talk about having a good week.

Last Wednesday, after months of organizational work, Gulfside Home Health accepted its first patient. And on Thursday, it celebrated the grand opening of its new Land O’ Lakes office with a chamber of commerce ribbon cutting.

A ribbon cutting was held last week for Gulfside Home Health, a new division of Gulfside Health Services that provides skilled home nursing and therapies ordered by a physician. Celebrating with the ribbon held high is Gulfside President Linda Ward; holding the scissors is Cheryl-Ann Benn, administrator for Gulfside Home Health.

“It’s exciting to be growing and offering new services to our community,” said Linda Ward, president and chief executive officer of the agency. “Providing skilled home care to patients is a perfect complement to our hospice and palliative care services that we have been providing for a long time.”

With the launch of its home health division, the nonprofit has changed its name to Gulfside Healthcare Services, with three distinct divisions — Gulfside Home Health, Gulfside Hospice and Gulfside Palliative Care.

“Gulfside has served Pasco residents since 1988, and we are well-known for our quality care and community focus for hospice and palliative care. We are bringing this same dedication to home health, and look forward to providing this much-needed service to our community,” said Ward.

Gulfside Home Health is offering skilled home health services that are ordered by a patient’s doctors, including nursing, therapy and patient education.

Gulfside’s nursing staff provides wound care, injections, IV infusions, pain management and medication oversight. And, its licensed therapists offer physical, occupational and speech therapies. All services and treatments are done in a patient’s home.

“There are many advantages of taking care of someone in their home instead of in a hospital or rehab center,” said Cheryl-Ann Benn, who heads up Gulfside Home Health as its administrator.

“Patients are more comfortable at home, family is there for support, and no transportation is needed because our health care providers come to them.”

Benn adds that home care especially helps with patients who easily get confused in unfamiliar places, which is common toward the end of day when people with memory problems suffer from sun-downing effects.

“We plan our visits around a client’s schedule, right down to avoiding a favorite television show,” said Benn. “Families can choose the time that is best for them.”

Most appointments are scheduled between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and only skilled care ordered by a physician is provided. Patients are not charged directly for the care they receive — Gulfside bills Medicare or private insurance, not its patients.

Benn clarifies that Gulfside’s service line features skilled nursing care and various therapies, unlike many other companies that simply offer companion care, bathing or assistance with meals and shopping.

“Our team specializes in the advanced care that must be done by a nurse or professional,” said Benn. “There are many private companies that offer non-medical services that do not qualify for payment under Medicare of private insurance.”

Benn joined Gulfside Home Health in February to prepare for Joint Commission Accreditation, to hire staff and get the office ready next to Gulfside’s thrift shop on Land O’ Lakes Boulevard.

Gulfside Home Health received its license on April 5 for Pasco and Pinellas counties, and since then has hired RN and LPN nurses, home health aides, a social worker and physical therapist, as well as contracting for occupational and speech therapists.

“We have an outstanding staff with many years of experience — I couldn’t be happier with the team we’ve put together,” said Benn.

Patient referrals come from hospitals, rehab facilities and doctors’ offices, and patients can choose which home health service best meets their needs.

Benn and Ward believe many families will chose Gulfside Home Health because of the stellar reputation of Gulfside’s hospice and palliative care services, and because it is a nonprofit.

“Being a nonprofit allows us to create programs for clients and their families they are not reimbursed for through Medicare or private insurance,” explained Ward. “We can host community events to raise funds for additional services, and are looking at developing programs on COPD, diabetic meals and foot care, caregiver support, and many others,” said Benn.

Ward added that offering home health services is taking Gulfside to a higher service level and is a logical next step. In the first few months, Gulfside Home Health expects to serve 30 to 50 patients, and then grow to over 120.

“We want to offer a continuum of service, while remaining community-based,” said Ward.

Published May 15, 2019

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