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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Dec. 17, 202004:05 PM EST

LHC Group hiring to expand access to home health care

The company has seen an influx of patients wanting to use the service during the pandemic.
by: Katie Garwood Staff Writer

To keep up with increased demand for home health care during the pandemic, LHC Group wants to hire at least 12 health care positions in Northeast Florida.

Joann Sorensen, associate vice president of sales for LHC Group in Northeast Florida, said that number could change based on demand. She said there are opportunities for more registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, physical therapists, social workers and certified nursing assistants.

CNA positions are continuously hiring to keep up with demand for Apex’s private duty nursing, she said.

Those patients require more basic care, including bathing, cooking, cleaning and getting dressed. 

This year, Sorensen said her division has hired more than 60 employees. As home health care becomes more accessible and desirable to patients, she expects LHC Group’s presence to continue to grow in the region. 

The company also uses contract workers to fill gaps in staffing until it can find a permanent replacement, she said. 

In Jacksonville, LHC Group operates two Apex Home Healthcare offices - Apex Companion Care and St. Vincent’s Home Health. Apex also has locations in Fleming Island and St. Augustine. 

Apex Home Healthcare and St. Vincent’s Home Health offer care transition nursing, disease management, behavioral health nursing, pain management, speech therapy and caregiver training. Apex Companion Care offers private duty nursing. 

It has offices in Riverside, North Jacksonville and Southside.

Since the start of the pandemic, Sorensen said she has seen an influx of patients who want to be treated from home rather than in a hospital or nursing home. 

“There are more and more patients who do not want to go to a hospital setting,” Sorensen said. “They do not want to go to a nursing home setting, a rehab setting. They are looking to home care as the answer to keep themselves home and in a familiar setting.”

Changes to Medicare have made receiving home health care easier.  

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act changed requirements that said a patient had to be deemed homebound to receive home health care. Now, they can qualify for home health care through Medicare if they’re high-risk patients.

It also waived a requirement that said a patient needed an in-person visit with a physician to enable home health benefits through Medicare. Now, that’s authorized to be done virtually. 

“We’re hoping that some of these changes stay in place even after COVID,” she said. 

Given the low cost to the patient and to Medicare, Sorensen expects health care will continue to grow.

“If they are managing the disease process, we can do that in the home,” she said. “And we can do that for the patient and the cost to Medicare is significantly less than if they have to go to an inpatient facility.”

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