by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer
Betsy Williams, RN, is new to Companion Home Health after having always worked in hospitals since she graduated from Platt College in 2008.
“It’s just something different, a change of pace,” said Williams, case manager at Companion Hospice, with offices in Guthrie and Oklahoma City.
“I really like it. You get a lot closer with the patients. It’s different because you’re entering their world instead of them entering yours. It’s a whole new ball game, really,” Williams explained.
She has worked in med/surg and intensive care at a couple of large metro hospitals. Now as case manager, she sees a continuity of care from start to finish with her patients.
“You are the doctor’s eyes and ears obviously since you’re going into a home,” Williams said. “So with a lot of it, it’s good to have the hospital experience because you have seen the disease process. A lot of it is more preventative when you’re going into the homes. I think that’s why I like it, because I can see earlier in the disease process.”
Sometimes a patient might need a little bit of extra care after having a knee replacement or other procedures. And they seem to be a lot more compliant to follow-up care when staying in their own homes for recovery, Williams said.
A home health nurse can tell when their patient is not following medical advice. A patient living with congestive heart failure will develop too much water in their system resulting in feet and limbs that are swollen.
“If they say they’re not eating salt, they’re probably not telling the truth,” Williams said.
Nurses can better control a patient’s diet that is delivered to a hospital room. But most of the time, home health patients remain compliant because they must agree to be on home health, Williams said.
“Patients who agree to be in home health want to get better,” Williams said. “They’re their own advocate.”
A disease process determines the length of stay for a person enrolled in home health, she said. Companion Hospice has had some patients who have been part of home heath for months due to the need for dressing changes every day, Williams continued.
“And then we’ve had patients that were on it for two weeks who wanted that little bit of help once getting home from the hospital,” Williams said. “But the average is five to six weeks.”
Williams chose to work at Companion Home Health because of the people who work there. Guthrie is a small, closely-knit town where everybody knows that Companion is a great company for a career, Williams said.
“I know they’re really good to their employees. I’ve always heard of the great things they do for their employees,” Williams said. “And everybody is super friendly and super nice. You know, it just comes down to being about the patient.”
Williams said she has seen Companion Home Health accept patients who are without insurance and “eat the cost.” Companion Home Health is a compassion-driven business serving humanity, she said. It’s never about quantity of the money. Companion is not about how much money can be made quickly, she said.
“It’s truly about the people,” she said. “They’re great to their employees and their patients. Everybody here is like family. Everybody gets along. There’s no drama. It’s nice.”
She admires the nursing staff for going above and beyond their line of duty for a patient. She has seen that with all the nurses she has met at Companion, Williams said.
“You have to have a lot of knowledge to do home health because you’re it,” she said of working independently. “You don’t have a doctor right behind you that you can look at and say, ‘What do you think?’”
She gathers all the details of patient care when in a home and communicates it to a physician.
“The nurses here are very knowledgeable. I’ve worked in med/surge and ICU and I’m still learning stuff here,” Williams said.
She also learned about nursing from her step mother, who inspired Williams’ interest in the career. Her step mother serves in the ICU as a registered nurse at Kindred hospital in Oklahoma City.
“I always thought it was really neat. She’d come home and tell us stories,” Williams said. Williams is on-her-toes most of the day, but when not working is all about family, she said.
“We like to go to the lake with the whole family, my brother and kids. We all share a lake house and we try to go up there as much as we can in the summer time,” Williams said.