By: Paul Kusserow, Amedisys President and Chief Executive Officer
You get in a car, pull your equipment out of the trunk and go door to door all day. You arrive at homes without knowing what you will find, or how your patients are going to be faring. So it goes, day in and day out, for 10,500 Amedisys clinicians deployed out into the field caring for 57,000 patients on census each day.
Now let me confess something about myself here. I'm not a clinician or homecare veteran. I did not build my career in home health and hospice. If new CEOs in the first months at the helm are self-aware enough to know anything, it's that they need to immerse themselves in the business and culture and learn everything they can from the people on the front lines. Shut up and listen, look for common themes, then dig in and understand them. That's the only way you can get up to speed and be additive quickly.
That's why last year I went out into the field for an independent research and listening tour. I needed to witness how our clinical teams take care of our patients; how we support them and where we can improve; how our care centers work; how we deliver care - the whole package.
So I started visiting care centers and met at length with our patients and more than 1,000 of our staff, nurses, therapists, social workers, aides and clergy alike.
Here are my three key thoughts about you:
So what do we choose to focus on? What's our strategy? Very simply - we choose our patients and we choose you. The feedback I got from all my visits fell into four areas of focus. For us to be the number one provider of care in the home, we must:
• You're good at your job. You give patients the deepest attention, intimate and one-on-one. You sometimes train patients how to maintain balance, gain strength, eat right, bathe right, and get back to tending the hydrangeas in the backyard garden. Your responsibilities span the physical, the psychological and the spiritual. Thanks to you, a woman once unable to walk can again climb to the top of the stairs and sleep in her bedroom, and a man who lost the power of speech can tell his wife he loves her. Clearly you're getting it right. You're why more than 2,200 hospitals and 61,900 physicians nationwide refer patients to us. You're good.
• You build history, one person at a time. You know your patients inside and out. You know the baseline vital signs, whether blood pressure or cholesterol count. You know the family - the ever-concerned husband, the anxious daughter from out of state, the cat. Why is there always a cat? You know whether your patients are eating properly, dressing and bathing themselves, moving often enough, taking the right medications at the right time. You know if they're happy, anxious, confused or frustrated. No surprise there. You make patient visits for weeks or months, you're bound to become the resident expert. You're quick studies, you can put together a patient's situation and story within two steps from the doorway.
• You care; in many cases deeply. You take your job personally. You bring to the table your clinical excellence, knowledge and also the most crucial of intangible elements, compassion. You also deliver smiles, lend a sympathetic ear, pat patients on the shoulder for encouragement. You do everything in your power to bring peace to the dying. And you do it - you care. Your care is the glue which holds it all together. We receive all those letters every year from patients and families expressing satisfaction and appreciation and gratitude - and so often calling you "angels." No wonder.
My top takeaway? "It's the people!" You're making a difference with the patients entrusted to your care every day. Everyday heroes, behind closed doors, one person at a time.
For Amedisys to be continuously successful we need to have two things: 1.) Great people; 2.) Great tools for those great people. If we have both of these, all good things follow. The equation is just that. The advantage good people give us is destined to come full circle. The better you perform for our patients, the better we perform as a company. And the better we operate as a company, the better we can all ultimately serve our patients. A virtuous circle.