By: Rick Marschall
From First Response To Full Response: 1st Call – From Emergencies To House Calls
When most people retire from a lifelong job, especially a job that is intense and involves constant stress, they welcome time off, often counting the days until retirement. Finally, they can forget the high-pressure aspects of those lifelong activities.
Mike Barnhard, Bob Mlynarek, and Jason Groth, however, are not “most people.”
They all are veteran firefighters and paramedics from Harrison Township, Mich., and became aware of home-crisis situations after the responses to alarms—vulnerable people, seniors facing mobility challenges, and the many other factors of home health care. Too many people, they observed, were in “bad places,” underserved or unserved in many areas of their lives.
Bob retired early a year ago after 19 years on the job; Mike and Jason are in their 23rd years in fire and paramedic service, but also “on call,” looking forward to serving areas in home health care not being addressed by the system. It is hard to think of three guys who look as hardy as they do to be in the retirement zone, much less planning more and more activity, but their zeal fuels them.
Once agreeing to work together in “second lives,” Jason explained, their hearts and dedication continued to be “all about patient outcomes.” They agreed to transition into a service they could create, putting to use the skills they learned to serve the needs of people as they witnessed them every day.
That is how 1st Call Home Healthcare was born, and how it guides the activities and growth today. As firefighters and paramedics, they looked ahead to private work and were able to focus and specialize in their areas of expertise, not to be all things to all people… when, in many cases, “all things” are not needed by all patients.
“As professional firefighters and paramedics, we saw a need to help seniors live safely in their homes,” Bob said. “We founded Preferred Care at Home, a non-medical home care service, in 2009, which eventually became one of the largest private-duty home care agencies in the state.”
With Preferred Care established, the three later added 1st Call Home Health to provide skilled care and auto injury care. Today, the trio has served hundreds of clients and their families, placing a priority on the word home in the phrase “home health care.”
“We have found that when given a choice, seniors prefer their own homes to facilities,” Jason said. “Our live-in care is an affordable option, and helps maintain a quality of life for seniors.”
Just as firefighting and paramedic calls are not exclusive to seniors, 1st Call also addresses Auto No-Fault case management, catastrophic care, education, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and vent situations, and communication with physicians and case managers. These larger questions represent areas of deeper commitment and expertise.
Bob, at the moment, is the office guy with duties as Chief Marketing Officer, and just as the three owners are active in day-to-day operations, their directors of clinical operations are not mere well-meaning charity workers, but are registered nurses.
Margaret Davis, RN, CCM, has almost two decades of experience in Auto No-Fault and case management. She is 1st Call’s Director of Education, Clinical Manager and Catastrophic Care Supervisor. She also serves as the on-call as Vent and TBI Specialist. As an advocate to the No-Fault law and its maintenance and reforms, Margaret has a firm grasp of the ins and outs of the many aspects of No-Fault and catastrophic care issues.
Tracy Calderone, RN, is 1st Call’s Director of Nursing, Auto No-Fault/ WC Division. With 20 years of experience in emergency nursing, she is the Field Supervisor of all No-Fault cases, and handles communication with physicians and case managers.
Sally Esper, RN, Administrator, has more than 25 years’ experience as an RN and 15 years in home care as a Director of Nursing and Administration. She also oversees Medicare and Managed care visits.
Beyond this core, 1st Call Home Health Care has an office staff of 23, and a field staff of more than 200 people. In their business model, the skilled and private-duty personnel making calls include RNs, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, social workers, dietitians, wound care specialists, psychiatric specialists, and non-medical workers. Workers with 1st Call might make sporadic calls as need… or are sometimes hired as 24/7 live-in help. And everything in between.
Aside from admiring articles like this in Innovative Health Magazine, and enthusiastic word of mouth, how do people learn of the services of 1st Call Home Health Care? Margaret Davis has a quick answer: “We receive many recommendations from patients and families, and referrals from hospitals, case managers, those who know we are specialists in Medicare and Medicaid matters, discharge offices, nursing homes, and many other sources.”
As with any business, however, actual testimonies from those who have been served are the best, and most sincere, recommendations anyone could find. In 1st Call’s files are two endorsements, chosen at random:
A man was involved in a motorcycle accident on July 13, 2016, and suffered a right shoulder fracture, followed by surgery. Nursing and attendant care were provided by 1st Call in his home. He wrote:
“There are many home care companies that are able to do a satisfactory job, but 1st Call Home Healthcare has gone above and beyond. Having medical professionals coming into my home was nerve-wracking and, honestly, scary. 1st Call Home Healthcare has made my experience pleasant from the very beginning. Staff has been extremely professional and caring. I would recommend 1st Call Home Healthcare to anyone who needs services in the home.”
Another client, Clyde Everett, was involved in a catastrophic motor vehicle collision in 2005, resulting in a T10 injury with paraplegia. He receives 24-hour nursing and attendant care, and currently has a tracheostomy tube with continuous oxygen. He wrote:
“After being involved in a major car accident several years ago, I was paralyzed from the waist down. Being afraid and unsure of what was to come in my future, I feel truly blessed to have Tracey Calderone and 1st Call Home Healthcare as part of my medical team. Not being able to care for myself, I had to put my trust and faith into 1st Call Home Healthcare, and I can’t say enough positive things about the team. The compassion and medical expertise far exceed anything I could have imagined. Thank you, Tracey and 1st Call Home Healthcare. You have become more than just business acquaintances. I consider you my family.”
Since medical care and medical services are not included in 1st Call’s offerings—as we have said, at some point the care can be more essential than, say, diagnosis—it is useful to list the services that are needed, and served, by 1st Call.
Included in non-medical home healthcare for seniors, under its Preferred Care at Home subsidiary, are 24/7 live-in arrangements, and hospice support care in conjunction with hospice services, and:
- Alzheimer’s and dementia care
- transfers & fall prevention
- transportation and errands
- medication reminders
- bathing and hygiene
- bathroom assistance
- meal preparation
- incontinence care
- dressing assistance
- light housework
Skilled home care services of different sorts, none less important, are specialties of 1st Call Home Healthcare including the following: home management and education for the patient, family and caregivers for cardiac disease, diabetes, pulmonary disease and other chronic illnesses.
The mission of 1st Call is to provide medical-based home care with excellent customer service and professional, caring staff, including:
- auto injury specialists
- registered nurses
- physical, occupational, speech and language therapists
- medical social workers
- psychiatric nurses
- accredited wound care specialists
- home health aides
- registered dietitians
- certified home health aides
Durable medical equipment (DME) coordination, chaplain and ministerial support, and coordination of RX medications are also available through 1st Call.
Among the Rehabilitation categories addressed by 1st Call:
- knee replacement
- hip replacement
- bone fractures
- congestive heart failure
- post heart surgery
- coronary artery disease
- cardiovascular disease
- pulmonary disease
As firefighter/paramedic-owned and -operated companies, 1st Call and Preferred Care at Home know the devastating injuries that can occur in a motor-vehicle accident. Bob, Mike and Jason, as experts in emergency medical care, have responded to hundreds of injury accidents in the last 20 years. From the first response on the highway to rehabilitation at home, they understand the road to recovery.
A registered nurse/case manager will assess the patient’s medical condition and review with the patient’s external case manager. A professional home care staff is then assembled and coordinated to assist the patient at home to gain as much independence as possible. All auto insurance is accepted.
Skilled care visits include:
- registered nurses
- licensed practical nurse
- physical therapists
- occupational therapists
- speech therapists
- medical social workers
- psychiatric nurses
- registered dieticians
- advanced RNs
Every employee on home-care visits is:
- professional reference checked
- state of Michigan licensed
- screened and background checked
- fully insured and bonded
- randomly drug screened
- compliant with HIPAA regulations
Attendant care for auto injuries, provided on various levels according to needs and requirements includes: personal care, stand-by assist, companionship, light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders, incontinence care, basic transfers, peg tube care, catheter care, straight catheterization, bowel program, ostomy care, adaptive equipment use, tracheotomy care, chemotherapy and mediport changes, to name a few.
A specialized program is provided by 1st Call for psychiatric needs in the home:
Geriatric Care: Understanding the needs of our aging population with multiple comorbidity. For physical or mental health needs, 1st Call clinicians have extensive knowledge in geriatric care.
Dementia Care: Providing home care to patients who have been afflicted with dementia. 1st Call helps caregivers and families manage patient behaviors through education and effective use of medications.
Behavioral Care: Supporting patients suffering from problems associated with mood swings, psychotic and anxiety disorders. The team supports patients by helping them meet daily health and basic needs, under close supervision.
User friendly? For patients or their families who are interested in the services of 1st Call, their website is an inviting, fully explanatory journey through the remarkable company. There is even the ability to contact a representative and request… a lunch, over which you can ask questions and get to know the personnel.
This might sound like unorthodox marketing or “branding,” but just meeting the three firemen/paramedics who established 1st Call Home Healthcare, believe in its mission and drive it forward, can convince you that these people make the exceptional very common.