North Carolina State Representative Zack Hawkins Experiences a Day in the Life of a Durham Veteran Receiving Support at Home

NC state representative Zack Hawkins (left) meets home care client Mr. Mendenhall (seated) and his wife

State Representative Zack Hawkins, an active supporter of home health care, recently visited with a Durham family who rely on services to stay safe at home.

Representative Hawkins visited with a constituent, Mr. Aubrey Mendenhall, an armed service Veteran with a wonderful sense of humor. As a young US Sargent in Germany, he saw the prettiest lady working at the base general PX store…and spent the next thirty days asking her out. Margarete finally agreed and they’ve been together for more than 65 years.

Some five years ago, Mr. Mendenhall was diagnosed with Dementia – a condition characterized by a decline in memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking skills that affect a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. His dementia makes it difficult for him to manage without constant supervision and puts him at a high risk of falling. A certified nursing assistant (CNA) comes to help him bathe, toilet, and dress. “The aide’s goal is to help Mr. Mendenhall stay as independent as possible. Make sure he doesn’t fall or get an infection that can put him in the hospital,” said BAYADA Home Health Care Clinical Manager Megan Russell, RN.  

The Department of Veterans Affairs covers 11 hours of aide services per week. Outside those 11 hours, Margarete is his constant companion and support. She uses the 1 ½ – 2 hour breaks she receives each day to perform other necessary tasks such as running to the grocery store, to a doctor’s appointment, or to simply have an uninterrupted cup of tea. It is her only break from caregiving. At 90 years old, dealing with her own health issues, and after five years of serving as Mr. Mendenhall’s primary caregiver, Margarete finds herself exhausted!

With tears in her eyes, their only daughter, Kathy, commented that she is considering quitting her job as a nurse and move in with her parents so that she can better manage their care. While carrying for a loved one with a chronic illness can be profoundly meaningful, it can also be overwhelming as the physical, emotional, financial tolls compound on the family caregivers.  

“Having personally been touched with seeing my mother and aunt provide care to my grandmother, I understand how important it is to be able to take care of one’s family,” said Representative Hawkins. “And as a lawmaker, we need to support seniors and their families. To ensure they can live a full life at home. Care at home is an important option, less expensive, and where people want to be.” 

According to AARP’s online article, Caregiver Burnout, “over time, that physical and psychological wear and tear can lead to caregiver burnout – a condition of feeling exhausted, listless and unable to cope.”  Russell has reached out to the VA case manager to explore respite care which would allow for the family some much needed breaks. The Mendenhalls want to stay together, however, they need some additional support to effectively care for themselves while maintaining their responsibility to their loved one.

“In-home care programs provide one-on-one care by licensed nurses or certified nursing assistants under the care of a physician,” said BAYADA Area Director Lee Dobson.  “They allow families to stay together and be safe at home. It really gives the state more for less and is clearly part of the health care budget solution.”

Client Spotlight: BAYADA NJ Client Jim Davies Turns Home Visit into an Opportunity to Fight for Nursing Coverage

BAYADA client Jim Davies (center, seated) hosted a home visit with Assemblyman Benson (upper left)

When BAYADA Home Health Care client Jim Davies received a notice in the mail last year that his insurance would be transitioning to another agency, he tried not to panic. After all, the letter stated there would be no change, he would still receive coverage for his home health care nursing and personal care home health aide services.

However, Jim was not convinced. The 66-year-old, who suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a diving accident 20 years ago, is nearly paralyzed from the neck down. He relies on his nurses for his complex medical needs, which include wound care, range of motion exercises, mechanical transfers to and from bed, medication administration, catheter care, and care to prevent a serious complication called autonomic dysreflexia, which can lead to seizures, stroke, or even death.   

As a former sheriff and local fire commissioner, Jim is used to working collaboratively with others to make things happen. That’s why he immediately called a case manager at the insurance company, who reiterated what was explained in the letter, his home health care coverage would not change.

Coverage denied

Fast forward to the end of the year when Jim received another letter, this time from the new insurance company. Despite written and verbal assurance that his coverage would not change, the new company denied his home health care services, insisting Jim was stable enough and no longer needed nursing care.

Jim reached out to his BAYADA Mercer County Adults (MCA) office Director Meghan Hansen and Clinical Manager Sharon Wheelock who appealed the decision on his behalf, to no avail. That’s when they turned to BAYADA Government Affairs Area Director Louise Lindenmeier, who suggested Jim reach out to New Jersey Assemblyman Daniel Benson, a member of the state Health and Senior Services Committee.

Legislative home visit leads to positive change

“When I called Assemblyman Benson’s office, I wasn’t sure what the response was going to be, but I was pleasantly surprised,” says Jim. “The assemblyman made me feel that as his constituent, my problem was a major concern, and he owned it.”

Assemblyman Benson visited Jim and his wife of 40 years Rosemary at their home to witness, first-hand, the critical role home care nurses play in Jim’s health and well-being. During the visit, Assemblyman Benson also learned about the catastrophic medical consequences of stopping Jim’s nursing care and BAYADA’s unsuccessful efforts to appeal the denial from the insurance company.

Following the visit with Jim, Assemblyman Benson jumped into action. He joined BAYADA Managed Care (MCO) Director Pamela Soni, BAYADA Area Director for Pediatrics Managed Care (MCP) Stephanie Perna, and Louise for a meeting with the NJ Department of Banking and Insurance to discuss Jim’s case. In addition, he personally contacted the insurance company to negotiate the contract, resulting in a reversal of the denial. Thanks to his efforts, the issue was resolved within two weeks.

“It is really important to educate politicians on how insurance changes can impact their constituents,” says Jim, who encourages others in similar situations to reach out to legislators who may be more than willing to help. “Assemblyman Benson should be recognized for his prompt and professional response to my needs.”

Assemblyman Benson considered it a privilege to play a role in helping Jim. “It was my honor to work with Mr. Davies to ensure that he received the care he needs and deserves,” he says. “As legislators, it is our sworn duty to represent our constituents, and that means lending our assistance whenever possible, whether by simply cutting through red tape or elevating a situation to a higher level so that it is promptly addressed. I would encourage those in need to reach out to their elected representatives to learn what they can do for them.”

Want to Help Make a Difference: Register for Hearts for Home Care

Whether you can give a minute, an hour, or a day, there are many ways to get involved in advocacy. It can be as simple as sending a pre-written email to your local legislators, hosting a legislator in your home, or attending an event at a legislator’s office or your state capitol.To learn more, consider becoming a “Heart for Home Care” advocate. It only takes five minutes to register at heartsforhomecare.com. You’ll receive email updates about current issues and opportunities to make your voice heart.

GAO Federal: Advocacy Spares BAYADA’s Home Health Practice $11 million Annually

GAO’s 2019 Federal Affairs Team with Senator Tom Carper (D-DE)
  • BAYADA GAO’s federal affairs team supported both the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (PQHH) and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) in lobbying both Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reduce the reimbursement cut mandated by the Patient Driven Groupings Model (PDGM) from 8.36% to 4.06%.  This reduction in the rate cut, effective January 1, 2020, saves BAYADA more than $11 million in annual gross revenues.  While the industry was successful in having the reimbursement cut reduced by more than 50%, it still faces further cuts based on behavioral assumptions.  This partnership of BAYADA and national associations will continue into 2020 with the goal to eliminate any further cuts made based on assumed behaviors and limiting future reimbursement cuts and increases to 2%.  
  • BAYADA led the Partnership for Quality Home Health’s (PQHH) first annual Home Visit Program by providing specific guidelines so that the industry continues to be consistent in its efforts to educate legislators on the value of home health.  Each quarter BAYADA was represented in several tactics (office visits locally or in Washington D.C., action alerts, town halls, comment submissions) that essentially led to the reduced reimbursement cut, and led a federal home visit in Florida with Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL). BAYADA continues to be recognized for our grassroots efforts on a national level within the industry.
  • GAO, along with the Hospice Action Network (HAN), lobbied MedPAC and successfully reversed MedPAC’s recommendation to cut hospice reimbursement in 2020 by 2%, saving BAYADA a potential revenue loss of nearly $1.5 million in 2020.

NC: SHE, GAS, and RAN Offices Demonstrate Advocacy by Building Relationships and Sharing Clients’ Stories


Sen. Alexander (back left) visits BAYADA client Rusty (front left) and his nurse, Vikki (front right) with BAYADA staff Cheryl, Jillian, and Rusty’s mother (back right).

GAO can’t do it alone, and in North Carolina we are proud to have so many employees that understand the impact of sharing their voice on behalf of all our staff and clients!

SHE and GAS Host Impactful Home Visit

Last month two offices, SHE and GAS, teamed up to host a home visit with newly elected Senator Ted Alexander. Our BAYADA team of advocates, including MIM Division Director Joe Seidel, GAS Clinical Associate Cheryl Reading and GAS Client Services Manager Jillian Fernald, as well as the client’s long-time nurse Vikki, spoke passionately about our services and the challenges we face in care delivery.

The visit was a grand success! The importance of home care and the work you do every day was certainly not lost on Sen. Alexander, whose wife and daughter are both nurses: “Our goal,” he explained, “is to keep families where they belong, together and at home.” These types of interactions lay the foundation for support of our legislative asks because the decision-makers see first-hand the impact home care has on families.

RAN Builds Relationships in a Different Way


BAYADA Ribbon Cutting Ceremony with Senator Wiley Nickel

Last month, the RAN office hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the grand opening of our new state-of-the-art simulation lab and training center. This was no regular ribbon cutting ceremony where the office invited current and prospective nurses to tour and see-in-action the simulation lab. We took the opportunity to educate lawmakers on the scope and breadth of what is possible in the home by inviting Senator Wiley Nickel to welcome the group. We also included Ed Troha, Vice President for the NC Chamber, who has four nurses in his family, to speak about the importance of the training center in job creation.

Additionally, former Senior Chairman for House Appropriations Nelson Dollar issued a proclamation to show his strong and constant support for home care. This center allows BAYADA to train nurses using real life scenarios that helps develop confidence, competence, and builds career-building skills to home health care nurse. Increasing awareness among legislators and other community leaders on the benefits of home care helps garner support as we work toward our legislative goals. 

Thank you to the many North Carolina staff and families that regularly share their voices in advocacy! To find out how you can get more involved, contact GAO Director Lee Dobson today!

South Carolina Representative Garry Smith Visits Local Family to Learn How Home Care Impacts his Constituents

Rep. Garry Smith (left) visits home health care client Emma (held), mom Gina (right) and their in-home BAYDA nurse Danielle (second from left).
Rep. Garry Smith (left) visits home health care client Emma (held), mom Gina (right) and their in-home BAYDA nurse Danielle (second from left).

 

South Carolina State Representative Garry Smith (R, District 27) visited a local family in his district to learn how his constituents and many South Carolinian families rely on home care to keep their loved ones together at home and out of more expensive settings. Rep. Smith is one of the many legislators that Hearts for Home Care advocates bring into home care clients’ homes to show them how federal, state, and local policies affect home care recipients and their families.

During his visit, Rep. Smith met 21-month old BAYADA Home Health Care client Emma Ferguson, Emma’s mother Gina, and Emma’s in-home BAYADA Nurse Danielle Rian. Emma was born with a Chronic Lung Disease of Prematurity, which causes Emma to experience severe breathing problems, pain, and other symptoms. At her young age, Emma has already had several surgeries and currently still requires use of a Gastrostomy-Jejunostomy (G-J) Tube to assist with her feedings and medication management throughout the day. At birth, state Medicaid authorized Emma to receive private duty nursing (PDN) services in her home so that Emma can remain safely and comfortably at home with her mother.

In March, Emma’s PDN services were terminated when Medicaid determined that her skill level no longer qualified her to receive care in her home. From March until May, Emma attended a local day care facility for children with complex needs so that her mother could continue to work. During this time, Emma was hospitalized on several occasions and required ventilator support due to respiratory illness. In May 2018, Emma’s mother Gina reapplied for PDN services, and Emma was able to start receiving care at home again. Emma currently receives 32 hours of PDN services in her home, and since the reauthorization, she has not been readmitted to the hospital.

Emma’s mother Gina stated, “I’m grateful Rep. Smith was able to visit our home to see how Emma and other medically-complex children can grow up and thrive with in-home nursing. These kids deserve some normalcy in their lives, and I have seen first-hand how much better she does when she can be with me at home rather than in an institution. She only receives 32 hours a week, and this allows her to receive the care she needs in the best place–her home–and allows me to be able to work to support my family.”

After the home visit, Rep. Smith said, “visiting sweet Emma and her family has opened my eyes to what home care means to my constituents and to the many South Carolinians who depend on Medicaid home care to stay with their families and out of higher-cost settings. I look forward to exploring ways we can help keep families together while at the same time effectively managing the state’s budget.”

“One-on-one nursing services have allowed Emma to remain safely at home under the Medically Fragile Children’s Medicaid Nursing Waiver. This program is an alternative to nursing home placement at a lower cost to the state,” said Melissa Allman, Hearts for Home Care advocate and Director of Government Affairs for BAYADA. “In-home nursing care helps minimize deterioration and can prevent costly hospitalizations as staff can address subtle changes in the medical condition before it becomes serious. I hope that more legislators continue to learn about how cost-effective these services are to the state, and how valuable they are in keeping South Carolinian families together.”

Home visits like this one really give elected officials a better understanding of how their decisions on key issues like Medicaid impact real people who are seeking to remain safely at home with their families. To find out ways in which you can participate in a home visit with a local legislator, or other ways you can advocate, email advocacy@bayada.com.

Assemblywoman Speight Meets ESS Client on Home Visit

Assemblywoman Shanique Speight is new to the state legislature, which makes it all the more important to introduce her to home care right away.

Essex County State Assistive Care (ESS) Director Lisa Minnella and her Clinical Manager Bonnie Caterson arranged for the assemblywoman to meet one of their special clients, 92-year-old Ms. Tisdale. Ms. Tisdale lives in Assemblywoman Speight’s district and has no family in the area. She needs certified home health aide (CHHA) services to assist her with the tasks she cannot do and help her be as independent as she can be in her own home.

The assemblywoman was very happy to meet Ms. Tisdale and spend time learning more about how home care services benefit her constituents and keep so many seniors in their homes.

Picture: ESS Director Lisa Minnella and Assemblywoman Speight with Ms. Tisdale

PA Client Visit to Discuss BAYADA’s Advocacy Program

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy (GAO)

 On Friday, October 20, Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro and I met with adult Home Health Aide client, William Bezdziecki at his home near Wilkes Barre to discuss the BAYADA Hearts for Home Care program and different client advocacy opportunities.  Also, present at the meeting were William’s parents, Jack and Mary Lou Bezdziecki, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (WBS) Clinical Manager Susan Youells, WBS CSM Kristie Spinello and Certified Nursing Assistant Gerald Stevenson.

NJ Client & Family Advocacy Manager Shares Her Own Client Experience During Recent Home Visit

Submitted by Tara Montague, Manager, Client and Family Advocacy, NJ (GAO)

I had the pleasure of hosting Carol Murphy, Assembly candidate in Legislative District 7, for a home visit to meet my daughter Mary.  As a 20 year long client of Mt. Laurel Pediatrics (MLP), Mary is the epitome of what home care can help families to achieve and we wanted Ms. Murphy to experience that first-hand.  Clinical Manager Chantel Denny and Administrative Coordinator Brooke Fitzpatrick discussed some of the challenging staffing issues that occur due to low reimbursement rates and difficulty attracting qualified nurses.  Registered Nurse Stacey Sutton shared some of the varied tasks that she performs in order to keep Mary healthy and safe at home and at school.  Ms. Murphy made a commitment, if elected to work with us to make home health care nursing a more attractive career option in the state.

Photo: Tara Montague, Client Mary, Carol Murphy

Summer Legislative Home Visits were a Success!

Submitted by Louise Lindenmeier, Director, Government Affairs (GAO)

Client and Family Advocacy in NJ are picking up speed. In the third quarter of 2017, we participated in four home visits with local legislators. This brings our totals for 2017 to nine home visits, one legislative round table, and one client district visit.

 

Hearts for Home Care Ambassador, Allison Nulton invited NJ state legislator Senator Thompson to a home visit for one of her clients from the TRP office. 

 

District 6 Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt visited with 14 year old Mt. Laurel Pediatrics client Juan M and his mother, Carmen. 

 

 

Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll from District 25 visited the home of 20 year old PED client Lily Kaplan in Morristown. 

 

Dawn Moeller, mom to PED clients Zak and Tyler, invited Senator Cardinale into their home to share what it’s like to have not one, but two children who are medically fragile and require nursing care.

 

 

We have two visits already scheduled during the upcoming fourth quarter and a couple more pending.

 

If you’re interested in setting up a home visit for one of your clients, please contact Louise Lindenmeier or Tara Montague and we will be happy to assist you.

NC: Together We Get Results

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director, NC Government Affairs (GAO)

Legislative successes, like the Medicaid rate increase for nursing last year and the home health aide increase this year, don’t magically happen.  Legislative successes start with an identified need — low Medicaid rates made it impossible to pay people what they are worth — and end with legislators supporting jobs in the community and keeping families together by investing in home health care.  Every step along the way, our Hearts for Home Care ambassadors carried our unified message to decision-makers.  Our cumulative actions over the years, including home and district visits, legislative round tables with lawmakers, responding to calls to action, attending lobby days, etc., made all the difference.  Individually and collectively our shared voices got results.  Join us to be a Heart for Home Care ambassador.