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MEMBER STORIES:  Lisa Juneau of Central Louisiana Home Health Care
HCLA:  What made you decide to go into home health care?
LJ:  I decided to change my nursing job from the hospital to home health in 1992. Both of my grandparents were very ill and on home health services. I witnessed a home visit and saw firsthand how the home health nurse was able to truly help them and assist with their independence at home.

HCLA:  What do you like most about this industry?
LJ:  My initial memory of working in the hospital is not having enough time to really talk to the patient and educate them regarding their disease process. I sometimes felt guilty when a patient was discharged because I was not able to spend quality time talking with them about their illness. Spending quality time with the patient in the home is what I like most about the home health industry. Home health nurses can truly make a difference in the lives of the homebound patients. In my opinion, home health services should almost be mandatory for homebound patients upon discharge from the hospital. These patients are very vulnerable and require an enormous amount of observation/assessment and education upon discharge from the hospital setting.

HCLA:  What is your agency like?
LJ:  Central Louisiana Home Health Care is a locally owned agency. We have three locations: Alexandria, Opelousas, and Marksville.  Our slogan really says it all, “Caring makes a difference.” I have been employed at this agency for the past nine years. I am very dedicated and proud to work for such a great home health agency.

HCLA:  Do you have a particular experience that best exemplifies you as a leader?
LJ:  As a leader of my agency, I pride myself with a positive attitude every day. I feel that my attitude sets the mood for the entire staff on any given day. I am also very passionate regarding home health. I put a 100% effort in everything that I do on a daily basis. I am proud to say that our agency has had excellent state surveys. Our re-hospitalization rate has also decreased by 20% in the past 3 years.

HCLA:  Do you have a patient experience that you are most proud of?
LJ:  I cannot narrow down one patient experience as most memorable. What I can tell you is that my patients knew my name and how much I cared for them. When I was a field RN, a doctor would often call me and say “I wish my patients loved me as much as they love you!”

HCLA:  Which one of your extracurricular activities is your most favorite?
LJ:  I pride myself in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I love animals and being outdoors. I have implemented all of these into daily exercise rituals. My chocolate Labrador Retrievers wait for me to get home everyday so I can take them on either a vigorous run or a much needed peaceful walk.


MEMBER STORIES:  Barbara Goodman of LHC Group

HCLA:  What made you decide to go into home health care?
BG:  It was a strange morning when it happened. I had worked the night before so I almost fell asleep [while driving] and just missed a head on collision with a truck. I was scared to death. After I stopped by the store to get diapers for my son, a local nurse who worked in home care told me she had just resigned and asked me if I would like her job.  She said it was home health, and I could work 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM and have my own office. I interviewed and was hired, not really knowing what I was getting into, but I fell in love with it. People in the hospital kept telling me that I would l be back in acute care but that didn’t happen. Over the years since I started home care in 1984, I have learned by trial and error, making it my business to learn this business.

HCLA:  What do you like most about this industry?
BG:  The fact that people have options to remain at home and be cared for in a safe, familiar environment and for us to be blessed to deliver that care – an awesome experience. I think, personally, that caring for people in their home is more rewarding than being cared for in the hospital because you are able to see the patient in the true to life environment (how they live, their funds or lack thereof) which causes us to be very creative in helping the patient ‘s manage their care. We can’t see all of that in the hospital.

HCLA:  What is your agency like?
BG:  I have been working with LHC Group for about 11 years. I started probably in one of their first or second true acquisitions and have been here through all of the growth. I believe this organization has the best family culture of any place I’ve ever been in. Our hearts are in the right spot, and we’re doing [home health] in the right way. It makes me proud and happy to be where I am, and I have no intentions of leaving. I also believe that here at LHC Group, though I do not see patients, I can make a difference by being able to work with staff and various patient markets/situations/staff across the country. Every day I go to work and I don’t feel like I’m working at all because I’m excited about what I am doing! Our philosophy is to do things right the first time and to be creative in meeting the needs of our patients and families. I always feel comfortable sharing my ideas/opinions. 

HCLA:  Do you have a particular experience that best exemplifies you as a leader?
BG:  I have grown from lower positions to where I am today. I have performed every position there is in home care from aide to supervision. I lead by example, and I have worked to further my education to help my leadership skills by completing my master’s degree and certifications in health care quality, OASIS, and coding.

HCLA:  Do you have a patient experience you are most proud of?
BG:  There was a young woman in her 30’s under a Medicaid payor. She went into a diabetic coma due to an elevated blood sugar. The hospital was able to get her blood sugar down, and we received the referral to follow her at home. When I got the referral, they were telling me “good luck because she cries each time we talk to her about her insulin”.  I took the referral and went to admit the patient.  She and I “hit it off” right away. I asked her if she could read. It turned out she cried because she couldn’t read. She was worried about following her diet because she wanted to eat hamburgers and have a beer. So I figured out her diet and was able to control her blood sugar and teach her how to get it under control. After that, she was never admitted back to home care. This shows that you have to find the root cause as to why people don’t follow their diet and work through barrier, likes and dislikes. I was able to cut pictures out for this lady and communicate with her since she couldn’t read. It doesn’t matter how elementary you have to get to meet their needs. Because I worked through the barriers of her likes/dislikes and illiteracy, she was discharged a happy and knowledgeable patient

HCLA:  Which one of your extracurricular activities is your most favorite?
BG:  I do like to read and travel, basically anything that transfers me to a different world with great scenery because I love the relaxed feeling of it.


MEMBER STORIES:  Lorraine Wells of Pinnacle Home Health

The featured members of HomeCare Association of Louisiana (HCLA) are asked a total of five questions concerning their history, inspiration, and interests. In answering these questions, the members allowed us to share with you their story. As HCLA, we would like to help people recognize some of the many heroes of home health—Lorraine Wells being one of them.

Lorraine is the Chief Clinical Officer at Pinnacle Home Health located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and has worked in home health for approximately nineteen years of her life. This commitment originated from a personal life experience in the late 1970s when her grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A bed was brought from the hospital into their home for him to stay. “He didn’t live much longer, but he was able to die with dignity, having family members around each day to talk to him and take care of him.” Lorraine explained. The support that her family provided for her grandfather was something that helped her understand the difference home care made through people’s lives each day. That was an experience that triggered Lorraine’s desire to go to nursing school.

She graduated in the year of 1989 while gaining more helpful experiences in the hospital setting as a nurse. “I’ve done it all,” said Lorraine thoughtfully, who has done nearly everything from taking referrals from doctors, to being an administrator, to finally being the chief clinical officer at Pinnacle Home Health. “I take what I know of homecare and share it with nurses who are trying home health for their first time [especially with patient-care issues].” Her experiences have turned into valuable skills that she uses to help others who are following the same footsteps to understand the life of home health. In addition, she wants to do as much as she can for them in order to take off any burden that distracts them from fully focusing on the patients. “It is important to know their motivations and interests to make sure they understand everything because home health right now is so different from home health years ago. Nurses who come out of the hospital setting sometimes think that home health provides full-time benefits for a part-time job, not understanding the realities of home care. It is good to help them know the realities so that they can make a difference for patients and also feel that they are helping.”

When asked what she likes the most about the home health industry, Lorraine answered, “As a whole, I love that we are able to deliver home care services to those who could not have access to it, [and also I love that we are] able to teach and help patients live independently at home with their families.” Even though home health is able to deliver, Lorraine is also still concerned about the many people who need medical services and are not in nursing homes, being provided with assisted living. This issue depends on the finance that is available. Long term care insurance—a concept that aided people on getting home care—was not widely used until the early 1990’s. So for people who cannot afford home care, Lorraine continually worries about what would happen to them because of their abundance. “You have to have passion for this because you cannot be an effective leader without it.” Lorraine stated. “If [home health leaders] have no passion for this business, how can you expect them to lead by example?”

At Pinnacle Home Health, the staff strives to do the best they can for their patients in every way. Lorraine who is much honored to be apart of this agency said, “We’re not perfect, but we do try to learn from our mistakes—always striving to improve. Not only do we care about our patients, but we value and care about our staff as well.” Pinnacle Home Health has grown since it first started, but it still maintains the atmosphere of a smaller agency, believing that the smaller the agency, the easier it is to maintain personal status with the patients and staff.

Most of Lorraine’s memorable experiences have been personal, and she’s proud of them as she explained, “The experience with my grandfather has the most lasting impression, and since then I lost my mom in 2009, and my dad suffered from a stroke 12 years prior to that. I am glad that I am a nurse and a home health nurse. [My dad] was chair-bound, and I was able to take care of him, having him at home...I would travel back and forth to keep Dad at home because it was his wish. I lost him within four months, but if I did not have that experience of caring for him, I don’t know how it would have played out. So that has to be a patient experience that I am most proud of.”

When she is not working, Lorraine enjoys spending time with family and friends. On her own time, she also enjoys entertainment such as reading, music, and is a huge fan of movies. Although she has travelled frequently for work having been to many places (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore, Chicago, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee), Lorraine still wishes to be able to travel more.  

MEMBER STORIES:  Karla Vappie of Innovative Home Health

Karla Vappie—who is the administrator of Innovative Home Health in New Iberia, LA and also the Southwest Representative for HCLA’s board—didn’t always have a career in the home health industry. After earning her Master's degree in school psychology, she worked for the Iberia Parish Special Education department for ten years before choosing home health. Her home health career began at the request of some new owners (also relatives) who needed a very loyal employee.

It was June of 1998 when Karla left her job in special education to work for Innovative Home Health as a human resources' assistant. She later added data entry to her job responsibilities. In July 1999, she became the Assistant Administrator and Head of Human Resources while working with her husband, Clarence, the Administrator at the time. Innovative Home Health had several homes before settling in New Iberia which included Lafayette and Carenco. In the past, the company and staff endured some very difficult financial lows. PPS came to be changing home health in significant ways. Therefore, Karla’s husband, Clarence, decided to leave the company to go back to his previous employer as a Radiologic Technologist and the owners moved Karla into the Administrator's position. She learned every aspect of the company from the ground up and assimilated much required leadership skills.

Her graduate school internship at the University of Southern Mississippi required her to organize and facilitate leadership conferences for gifted students. In doing that she had to read various texts about leadership where she learned the characteristics and behaviors of a good leader. She was trained as a parent educator during her years in special education. In addition, Karla is the financial secretary for her chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc and also a member and Treasurer of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of St. Peter Claver. All these experiences benefitted Karla in the leadership area. She takes being an effective and competent leader very seriously and continues learning how to motivate and communicate with the staff and how to set goals and remain organized. “I think that if you are a weak leader in this industry your tenure will be much shorter than it might be in another industry," Karla stated.

Her agency, Innovative Home Health, cares for about 92 patients with a staff of 19, not including contract employees. Karla believes that being a small agency has its advantages because of the direct contact each employee is able to have with one another and said, “I probably know more than they want me to because my office is in the middle of everything, and we’re able to meet together regularly. When there are hundreds of employees in multiple branches, it’s not easy to maintain direct lines of communication among staff, and I feel for Administrative employees who have to juggle that. I’m fortunate enough to have everyone come to the office frequently so it helps us [with communication].” However, Karla thinks being a small agency is a mixed blessing as is being a large agency. “Primarily what I focus on is what's best for the patient and how to get the best from my staff. If we should grow, if we don’t grow, whatever our census, we’ll continue to use that as an advantage.”

“I think it’s a good fit because I'm still in an industry that involves taking care of people. Before, I was assisting disabled children. Now, I'm assisting medical fragile adults.” Karla stated. “People who have a helping spirit by nature find a way to continue nurturing others. Even though I sit at a desk, every decision I make directly impacts the medical care we provide our patients and when I end up on the phone with a caregiver or patient it is not too far removed from the kind of caring for people I used to do, and that’s why I enjoy it.”

As for future plans, Karla’s son who just graduated high school will be attending Ole Miss in August. She laughed, “I’ll be an empty nester.”





VIDEOS:  For Your Edutainment

Patients, diseases and healthcare are changing - and this affects your health.
© 2010 Novartis AG

Click here to be directed to this well-constructed video.


Taken from the Mix08 presentation by Daniel Makowski 



The two animated videos below will either amuse you or educate you on the cynical humor of medical homes & accountable care organizations.



The video, "Outside Hospital," is a spin on some of the confounding practices of our fee-for-service delivery structure, underscores the need for a more integrated, comprehensive and coordinated system.


An educational yet captivating video about being a nurse.


For a more motivational and inspirational take on nurses, watch the tribute below.


At last, we like to share the more humorous and amusing perspective of studying to be a nurse. These music videos or parodies were made by medical students across America using their own revised version of songs like Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and Kesha's "Tik Tok". We promoise it'll make you laugh!





With your member exclusive rights, our purpose is to help you stay updated on news within the healthcare industry. Soon, more of these related stories will be available on our HCLA website, your primary place for information.

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