Whole-Patient Care in the Texas Storm

Published April 7, 2021

Natural disasters frequently take the biggest toll on the most vulnerable, especially those with serious medical conditions. The recent extreme weather and subsequent power and water failures in Texas were no different.

In situations like the recent events in Texas, people who are already managing a complex health situation may face a new set of health care challenges, including disruption in routine medical care, lack of access to medicine or home medical supplies, and overburdened medical facilities in the event they need them.  They are also particularly affected when their non-clinical needs – including access to water, electricity, and food – are not met. In addition to the fear and uncertainty of not having access to basic needs, this lack of access can lead to complications to existing medical conditions.

Knowing this, one palliative care nurse, Angela, went the extra mile to ensure her patients had what they needed to weather the storm’s aftermath. Angela, a nurse with Envoy Hospice, is the nurse manager for Turn-Key Health’s palliative care program for a population of seriously ill Medicare Advantage members in Texas. Turn-Key Health, a CareCentrix partner, is a national home-based palliative care company.

When the cold and icy weather began, Angela and her team of nurses and social workers began proactively reaching out to some of their most vulnerable members.  One member that Angela’s team reached lives in a group setting and is dependent on others to provide food. Due to the storm and power outage crises, the member’s house had nothing to eat for two days. Naturally, they were hungry and frightened.

Upon contacting the member and learning about the situation, the Turn-Key team placed calls to order food delivery, but due to the poor weather conditions, nothing was open. That’s when Angela, the team’s lead nurse, took matters into her own hands.

Angela and her family were staying at her mother’s small home since their own home had lost power. Despite being displaced herself, Angela and her mother cooked up chicken and rice, macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti for the three men. They also gathered groceries including cereal and milk.

Angela’s husband then drove her through the storm to the boarding house where she delivered the food. The member cried when she arrived, calling her an angel. Kerry, the social worker on the team, continued to check in daily and was able to arrange delivery of enough food to tide them over until the boarding house owner was able to arrange a full delivery of groceries.

“The people our program takes care of often don’t qualify for full-time care, but they’re still vulnerable,” Angela noted. “They’re this middle portion of people who need help but there’s not a lot of help for them. As a nurse, that’s what I love, finding and helping the people who don’t have the resources they need.”

The efforts of Angela and her team are representative of the amazing and incredibly important work that can be accomplished when going beyond a person’s clinical needs.

“As a nurse, I understand how the patient’s environment plays so strongly in their clinical situation. The beauty of this program is that we get to know someone in their home. By getting to see where someone lives, we really get to know these people and what’s affecting them so we can tailor our care to their situation.”

Angela and her team were able to provide this sort of care because Turn-Key, and the entire CareCentrix network, does more than just help these patients cope with the medical aspects of their illness. They work to support the whole person, ensuring they have access to essential resources like food and transportation in addition to medications and medical care.

By thinking outside of a person’s clinical situation and understanding the full scope of their needs, Angela, Kerry and the Envoy team, along with everyone at Turn-Key are able to go above and beyond to ensure people have what they need to navigate both everyday life and the most difficult crises.

To learn more about Turn-Key Health’s palliative care program click here.