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Business Observer Friday, Mar. 18, 2016 3 years ago

Emergency call

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McKenney Home Care will send a nurse to the emergency room to be your advocate if you need hospital care.
by: Jean Gruss Contributing Writer

Everyone knows how hectic the emergency room can be, especially when winter visitors crowd the state.

Elderly patients who are transported into that chaos often forget their medications, they can't remember who their primary physician is or even how to reach their relatives. “If the person has dementia, forget it,” says Patrice Magrath, co-founder and financial officer for McKenney Home Care in Naples.

So McKenney Home Care launched a program called Concierge Healthcare Advocacy. For a $500 annual fee, the agency will collect the information a patient might need if they have to go to the hospital and a staff nurse will be dispatched to be with that patient to act as an advocate. Depending on the skill level of the nurse that would cost $45 to $75 an hour.

For the $500 annual fee, a nurse will visit you in your home and complete an assessment that includes medications you're taking, who your primary physician is and who the nurse is permitted to speak with about your health matters if you're incapacitated. The information is secured in a folder that the nurse will bring with her to the hospital.

Already, 40 people have signed up for the service despite the fact that McKenney hasn't advertised it widely. “Honestly, it's just word of mouth,” Magrath says.

Besides, Magrath says the plan is to ensure quality care. “If you grow too fast, you lose control,” she says.

The idea for this came from a concierge doctor in Naples who was frustrated when she couldn't rush to the hospital every time one of her patients was admitted. “All of her patients were worried if they had to go to the hospital,” Magrath says.

Many older residents in Naples have no relatives who live nearby and their spouses may be incapacitated. Their children may live in another state, for example, and the service might give them peace of mind that there's someone looking out for their parent at the hospital. “This is an extra layer of protection,” says Kate Cawthorne, McKenney's director of nursing.

Especially in winter, hospital staff is likely to be shorthanded. “ER nurses are just crushed,” Magrath says.

Magrath says the nurse advocate does not administer medications, order tests or perform other duties that a nurse would while you're in the hospital. “We're not doing nursing care,” she says.

McKenney nurses keep an eye out for unnecessary procedures, help fill out forms and can help coordinate the care that a patient might need in the emergency room. “Navigating the
system is not easy,” she says.

Magrath says emergency room nurses welcome McKenney nurses because they don't have to spend valuable time figuring out important details such as a list of current medications.
“She talks the talk and knows the lingo,” Magrath says. “They're grateful to have us there.”

From a staffing perspective, nurses who are on call are happy for the extra work, says Cawthorne. Besides, emergency room visits are infrequent. “Naples has a very healthy population,” she says.

Follow Jean Gruss on Twitter @JeanGruss

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