Providing care from home: Nurses prepare patients for icy weather

GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Hospice and home health nurses are on call 24/7 looking to provide care to those in the comfort of their own homes even in times of inclement weather.

Covering three different counties and nearly 250 patients, Mississippi HomeCare has clients who depend on their services, even when the weather is brutal.

Director and registered nurse, Katrina Evans said that icy roads did not stop them from providing care to her patients.

“Hectic to say the least. But we have been actually working with our executive directors and our higher-ups last week to start identifying the patients that we call category one and category two patients,” Evans said.

Michelle Lowe is the account executive for Baptist Hospice. She said they devise an emergency plan for events like this.

“We call ahead and make sure that they have all that they need in case they lose power or we lose access to them via the road so we make sure people who are O2 dependant have plenty of tanks in the home. We make sure they have proper heat sources; we make sure that they have everything they need to stay safely remained in the home until we can get to them,” Lowe said.

Candance Blanton is a registered nurse for Baptist Hospice who knows being available during the winter conditions is critical.

“We see these people. We’ve seen them decline and we have been with them throughout all of this stuff, and it’s more of a piece of mind to help them to know that just because the weather is bad we are still there for them,” Blanton said.

Telehealth options have become essential for many of her patients.

“Automatically when our offices are closed and after hours our phones roll to a triage system that we educate our patients on very well when we first sign them up. And most of the time whenever our patients do call nine times out of 10 it is able to be worked through over the phone. So, it does cut down even our EMS systems having to get out on the road. Instead of just having to call 911 automatically, we are able to educate them and talk them through a lot of things. So, our triage system has been a wonderful thing for us,” Blanton said.

Evans, from Mississippi HomeCare, said after the storms are over, the staff kicks it into high gear.

“So in a case like that, we prioritize. Meaning the patients that the hospital discharges, patients that have been discharged from the hospital that are current, patients that are calling that need to be seen so we prioritize to make sure that the patients that hadn’t been seen do get seen,” Evans said.

Mississippi Home Care will have extra personnel on staff on Saturday. That is when the temperatures are expected to be dangerously cold.

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