By Tony J. Onaissi
We had been in the home health and home infusion space for more than 23 years when the pandemic hit. Like all businesses, we were severely affected by the multiple lockdowns, the on-going news coverage and the fear that resulted from it.
There were no PCR tests yet and so a lot of patients needing help in their daily living cancelled their service fearing that our caregivers may be infected and those needing home infusion therapy were advised by their doctors to switch to the less effective oral pills when it was possible, all for the same reason.
Our sales people were locked down for a while and then forbidden from seeing our most important referral source: The Physicians.
We were almost crippled and our first reaction was to reduce the working hours of our staff and hence our fixed costs. But this alone did not do it. We needed to act and generate revenue. The big question was: how to achieve that in such a dramatic and unusual situation?
When top management discussed the idea of starting a Covid-19 care unit, it had the effect of a bomb shell! No way, most if not all of the management team said; this is too risky and not a nurse or caregiver would ever dare caring for an infected person. Subjected to the non-stop news coverage and deaths cumulating all over the world, management understandably took a pause.
Meanwhile, revenue was shrinking and losses dangerously accumulating for a business that had pride itself for being the best and most professional home health and home infusion therapy provider in its area.
But we could not give up as many of our families’ employees depended on us and because failure was not an option.
Time does wonders and as people overcame the initial shock, we offered a crash Covid-19 prevention training course to both our caregivers and registered nurses, provided them with PPEs and offered to pay them three times more than regular visits. They accepted.
We also managed to buy more Oxygen Concentrators to deploy in homes so that patient with a low but acceptable oxygen saturation level could use them until their situation improved.
All requirements for proper Covid-19 care put in place, we launched our service and relied on our website to make the announcement. The reaction was immediate. Both our private paying patients and health insurers were ready to take on the cost hike, in return for professional care, away from what they feared most: visiting a hospital for the patients and paying for it for the insurers.
Today, although the demand has sharply fallen and our traditional home care service improving, our Covid-19 team remains in place and ready to serve.
Looking back, starting a Covid-19 Care unit helped us generate much needed revenue at the time and provided our patients with the care they were looking for in the safety of their homes. We learned that after 24 years of being in business we remained young, daring and able to adapt to change in order to survive: The human beings most basic instinct.