Following the death of founder of Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED) last week, the company is helping its staff and patients get through another set of challenges in the aftermath of Louisiana’s biggest natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina. Torrential rain and devastating flooding in the state have killed at least 13 people and affected 40,000 homes. Both both home care workers and clients have been impacted.
Amedisys, which is one of the nation’s largest home health providers, has 16,000 employees nationwide and 420 in Baton Rouge alone. Of the staff in Baton Rouge, almost 30% have been impacted from the flooding, with damage to their homes, cars, or both, Amedisys President and CEO Paul Kusserow told Home Health Care News.
When news broke of the bad weather, Amedisys’ disaster response team began checking on patients in the affected areas twice a day—the company’s protocol during a natural disaster response.
“We have been able to check in with our patients and contacted all but two patients on the home health side,” Kusserow said. “On the hospice side, we have been able to account for every patient.”
As the weather worsened with prolonged rain, Amedisys made sure its computer mainframe was in a safe place with an extra generator in case of a power outage at the Baton Rouge headquarters. The company also reached out to its workers who were both affected by the flood and to those who were unable to get to their patients’ homes.
“We rented a fuel truck tanker for workers who needed and wanted to get to their patients,” Kusserow said. “As the effects of the flood became known and [we] started to get feedback from employees, we started to buy supplies that would help them, and we distributed them. People could come get the basics like food, water, cleaning supplies, tools and fans. We had hundreds of fans brought in to help people start drying their belongings off.”
These tools assisted two Amedisys hospice employees to help an 80-year-old woman who was stranded in her home, according to Kusserow. They helped her clean out her house, made sure she was safe and still continue to check in on her.
Another in-home support agency in the area, Independent Living Center, is dealing with similar challenges. Roughly 60% of the agency’s 160 workers are unable to work because of the flood, The Advocate reported. Four of its eight managers lost their homes in the flooding. In the wake of their own damages, the agency’s caregivers are still assisting clients with floodwater damage, according to The Advocate.
On top of constantly checking in on each and every patient in the Baton Rouge area, Amedisys is helping their employees by giving them the funds to get started on rebuilding from all the damage.
“We just gave them money so they don’t have to wait for FEMA or their insurance,” Kusserow said. “We want them to get through the next couple of weeks and focus on assessing damages.”
Amedisys employees from all over the country are coming together to help those in Baton Rouge by donating money and truckloads of supplies such as water and toothbrushes for caregivers. The devastation is especially hard for the company in wake of the news that its founder and former CEO, William “Bill” Borne, was among the victims of the flood.
“This has all been a lot, since the passing of my predecessor, who ran the company for 30 years,” Kusserow said. “On top of the flooding now, it’s been really difficult. But it’s been quite remarkable at the same time because everybody is rallied together now. For corporate people like myself who don’t deliver care every day, it’s been a real opportunity to provide care to our employees, who then deliver it to our patients.”
Written by Alana Stramowski