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Gallagher Home Health Services: Responding to COVID-19 with Skill, Compassion and Resourcefulness

By Nancy Kennedy

What does it mean to be responsive? In its most basic definition, it means to answer or react, but especially to react quickly, and in a positive or sympathetic way. A responsive person is sensitive and empathetic to the needs of others, open and approachable, and quick to meet the needs of the other. We respond when we answer, acknowledge, react and take action to help and benefit others. It demands awareness of the other’s need, and that is achieved through listening well, with an open mind, a desire to help, and respect. Responsiveness is an essential quality in caring for others, and it is a special measure of quality in the bustling, complex environment of healthcare.

At Gallagher Home Health Services and Gallagher Hospice, LLC, responsiveness is the philosophical foundation that guides all their operations and relationships. It is expressed in numerous ways by the administrators, healthcare professionals, support staff and volunteers, in their interactions with patients, families, co-workers and colleagues. According to Shandra Harcarik, R.N., BSN, Regional Director of Sales and Marketing, this principle guides the staff every single day.

“Responsiveness is more than a concept on paper; we were founded on this principle 15 years ago and we apply it in everyday operations. We respond immediately to the needs of the patient. We have no answering service – if a patient or family calls us, a member of the staff will always answer, and answer live, 24/7. We apply this also to our referral sources; if someone calls to speak with us a potential patient, we will speak with them right away and will see the patient within 24-48 hours. We never make a patient wait.”

It should come as no surprise that the staff of Gallagher Home Health Services derives much-needed inspiration from the responsiveness principle as they confront the COVID-19 pandemic and respond to its impact on their patients, families and the home health community. “Our staff has been amazing,” Harcarik says. “They are strong, committed and brave, reaching out, wanting to do more, to help as much as possible. Patients and families are experiencing a lot of fear right now and so we are trying to address their fears, providing patient education about COVID-19. If a patient chooses to forego home health services right now, we respect their right to make that choice. But we are continuing to provide all of our services. We recognize that isolation is not normal for most Americans and it’s hard to adjust to this. Our nurses are counselors, offering hope and resources and wearing many hats, as other services have been reduced. It matters more than ever that we are there for our patients and families.”

Harcarik says that the COVID-19 pandemic has called upon the Gallagher staff to assume a larger role in supporting end-of-life patients and their families. “With the new restrictions on visiting, families may be unable to be with their loved one. We can go in when the family cannot, as we are considered a ‘medically necessary’ service, to provide palliative care, emotional support and spiritual care. Our staff may be the only support the family has.”

For the past 15 years, Gallagher Home Health Services has provided excellent, customized home health services to thousands of older adults and their families throughout Western Pennsylvania. It is family-owned and operated, Medicare-certified and licensed by the Department of Health. With a strong commitment to identify and meet the needs of this population, Gallagher has grown remarkably, expanding into a multifaceted organization with three locations, serving nine counties and offering a broad range of services, including home healthcare, private duty home care services, and end-of-life care. With a multidisciplinary staff comprised of registered nurses; physical, occupational and speech therapists; home health aides; companions; social workers; hospice nurses, hospice aides, spiritual support as well as bereavement counselors and mental health professionals, Gallagher Home Health can meet the needs of even the most complex patients with skill, compassion and creativity.

The word that motivates this exceptional team – responsiveness - is derived from a Latin word meaning “promise.” Even in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic, Gallagher Home Health Services continues to fulfill its mission of uncompromising, quality home health services to seniors and support to families. It is a promise that they keep every day to every patient and family, and to the entire community.

For more information about Gallagher Home Health Services, visit www.gallagherhhs.com or call (412) 279-7800.

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