Champion Home Health Care owner Tom Michaels, Alan Nelson

Champion Home Health Care owner Tom Michaels, right, receives his latest Readers Choice Awards from Hometown News Sales Manager Alan Nelson.

VERO BEACH - When Hurricane Dorian was approaching the Treasure Coast, Champion Home Health Care demonstrated why they are a repeat winner of Hometown News’ Readers Choice Award.

Owners Anne and Tom Michaels activated their emergency management plan. Staff helped clients with their relocation and home health care plans during the storm, purchasing hurricane supplies, and making sure their medication and food supplies were in place.

After the storm passed, Champion turned their attention to helping relief efforts for the Bahamas, donating medical supplies to a medical team heading to the islands.

The effort was just one example of Champion Home Health Care always trying to be the best.

“We’re just the right size agency,” Tom Michaels told Hometown News. “We’re not too big to lose that personal touch and personalized matching of staff to client. We have the right mix of enough caregivers to meet the clients’ needs, and giving them the special attention they are looking for.”

Champion helps Indian River and St. Lucie County seniors with wake up and tuck in; bathing/dressing; assistance with walking; physical therapy; shopping; errands; doctor appointments; medication reminders; meal preparation; light housework; in-facility assistance; and skilled nursing services.

“We only hire the best people,” Mr. Michaels said. “We do Level 2 background checks on all staff, to make sure they’ve had no criminal activity, and they’re cleared by law enforcement nationwide. We want to be sure we’re getting the proper person to send into someone’s home.”

They also know that not all clients are sure what services they need, or what Champion provides. That’s where Director of Nursing Linda Allen RN comes in.

“I receive the client referrals, and review them to assess their needs,” Ms. Allen said. “I find out what exactly they need help with - bathing, dressing, grooming - all the things that we take for granted. I then find the right staff to fill those needs.”

Ms. Allen arranges for an RN to visit for a complimentary assessment. “After needs are assessed, I determine who is best to go into the home to assist the patient.”

So if you call Champion for the first time, chances are you’ll speak with Linda Allen RN to find out if Champion has the services that will best assist you or your family member. Whether or not you hire Champion, Ms. Allen can help you figure out what services you need.

Follow up visits will be by an RN, LPN, or CNA/HHA, depending on what services are needed.

“There’s no cost to a potential client to have that assessment done,” Ms. Allen said. “That allows us to know what needs they have, and it allows them to meet us. That assessment helps us match them with the best caregiver to meet those needs. Our patients are very important to us, and we like to make sure that we get the right caregiver in the home.”

“Working in home health care is different than working in any other profession,” Mr. Michaels said. “There’s a person in need of assistance. They’re depending on us, and need us for things like getting out of bed in the morning, using the toilet and shower, cooking a meal. We cannot miss a shift that we’re scheduled to make with a client. We guarantee that, because people are depending on us, we can’t leave them without that assistance.”

“Many of our clients have children in a different state, and they are entrusting us to take care of their parents. We guarantee that we will perform those services that we say we will do.”

A new client doesn’t simply get helped by whichever aide is up next on the roster. Instead, all Champion staff work in tandem to assess the individual’s needs and desires, and find them the right match.

“Someone might request an aide who is more mature, or someone who lives near them,” Mr. Michaels said. “Sometimes they want someone who speaks a second language, they want someone who is talkative, or want someone quiet. We are giving them not only care, but companionship, to the degree that the client wants. Some people want someone who can cook really well, so we match them with somebody that loves to cook.”

After a client starts services, Director of Nursing Allen contacts them to make sure they’re satisfied with the caregiver they have, and that their needs are being met. Then she follows up with them at least once a month to make sure all needs are being met, and they are satisfied with the services they are getting. The client can always request a different caregiver.

Renee Smith handles human resources and scheduling. She finds the best candidates to work for Champion, and helps match them with clients.

Ms. Smith can tell potential clients about how the aides are hired, how their credentials are checked, and how she makes sure they have all requirements and schooling. Ms. Smith also ensures any documentation that needs to be obtained or renewed is, and that all staff have proper training.

“It is very important that all staff are up to date on all credentials,” Ms. Smith said. “I make sure to match the right caretakers with the client. I make sure everyone is at the right place on time.”

Tom and Anne Michaels understand how much we all dislike dealing with insurance companies. So one of their staff, Kathy Hirsch, steps in and handles virtually all interaction with insurance companies.

Ms. Hirsch works closely with the insurance companies, making sure they will pay for everything the client is entitled to. She is an expert in long term care insurance and VA benefits. She makes sure the client doesn’t have to pay for things out of pocket that should be covered by the insurance company.

“I’ve been dealing with insurance companies for about 15 years,” Ms. Hirsch said. “I’ve dealt with all of them, both private and public insurances. I run with it so the client doesn’t have to. Most of our clients have gotten to a point in their life where they don’t want to deal with insurance companies, don’t want to deal with the paperwork. I put them at ease by dealing with all of that for them.”

This year is the 26th anniversary of Champion Home Health Care, which started in Boca Raton in 1993. Tom and Anne Michaels have run the Vero Beach office for 14 years.

Champion Home Health Care is located at 840 19th St., Vero Beach. The office serves all of Indian River and St. Lucie counties. For more information, call (772) 257-0442, visit www.championvero.com, or email tom@championhome.com.

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