November is National Hospice and Home Health Care Month, and there’s much to recognize and celebrate at Gulfside Healthcare Services.
The Land O’ Lakes-based nonprofit has been providing end-of-life hospice and palliative care services to local residents and families for over 32 years, and since April 2019, home health care with skilled nursing for patients needing short-term rehabilitative care.
“In our two-and-a half years of providing home health services, we have grown to over 130 patients a day,” said Linda Ward, president and CEO of Gulfside Healthcare Services. “And, with the COVID pandemic, home health has never been more important than it is now, because keeping patients at home while they recover is always the safest choice.”
Patients typically receive home health services for between 30 and 60 days after hospitalization, accident or injury. Gulfside’s staff provides skilled nursing, physical and occupational therapies, wound care treatments, and social services. It currently serves patients in Pasco and Pinellas counties, and is expanding into Hillsborough County in 2022, and Hernando County in 2023.
“We are one of the few nonprofits in the area to offer home health, which means no one falls in between the cracks,” said Ward. “While most of our patients are covered under Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance, some are not. And as a nonprofit, we never have to turn anyone away because of a lack of coverage.”
This same inclusive philosophy holds true for hospice and palliative care — all of Gulfside’s services are provided to anyone who needs its help, as long as they are medically qualified. The cost to provide these services to uninsured people comes from donations, proceeds from five area thrift shops, and several fundraising events held throughout the year.
“We have a very generous community and active group of over 250 volunteers, who help us raise money so that no one is ever turned away,” said Ward.
One of the benefits of adding home health to the Gulfside family is that many of its home health patients transition to palliative and hospice care as they age and/or their illness progresses.
“This means there is a continuum of care for the patient and their family,” said Ward. “We provide the same outstanding services – nursing, psychosocial and spiritual — in all of our service lines. This holistic, interdisciplinary approach allows our staff to be aware and prepared to handle a situation when a care crisis comes up.”
Ward stresses the importance of Gulfside’s clinical social workers. “They have master’s degrees and work much like counselors to help patients with depression, anxiety, financial, family dynamics and, if needed, placement in facilities outside of the home,” she explains.
In Pasco County alone, Gulfside Healthcare Services helps over 3,000 families every year. On a daily basis, this translates to 630 hospice patients, 200 active palliative care patients and 130 home health patients.
Gulfside Healthcare Services takes care of this large and growing client list with 420 employees — with the vast majority being medical professionals providing health care services.
“Every day, and especially during the month of November, we recognize the home care and hospice community by honoring the hundreds of skilled nurses, licensed therapists, social workers and committed volunteers who make a remarkable difference every day in the life of our patients and families,” said Ward.
“These heroic caregivers play an essential role in our health care system, especially today with the challenges caused by COVID-19, and we call upon our community to commemorate the power of caring with us during National Hospice and Home Health Month,” said Ward.
Linda Ward has been a Gulfside leader for the past 15 years, and credits her employees for the organization’s growth and success.
“I can’t tell you how much I care for our employees and volunteers. We have decades of experience with our team members – from ages 18 to 96, representing seven generations,” said Ward. “At 61 years of age, I am learning so much every day from my staff, especially those in their 20s, who keep our organization progressive and relatable.”
Gulfside Healthcare Services
Hospice – philosophy of care for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families that provides support for the whole person, wherever they call home
Palliative Care – specialized medical care for people with serious, chronic illnesses that focuses on providing relief from pain and stress of a serious illness
Home Health – skilled nursing and rehab at home to help patients remain independent while recovering from an illness, injury or surgery
Published November 03, 2021
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