History of Evangeline Home Health
Evangeline Home Health is a 501c (3), private, not-for-profit home health agency created in 1972 by the Evangeline Parish Council on Aging in Ville Platte, La. The agency was established to meet the unmet needs of the rural parish and provide “Home Health Aid, Nutrition, Facilitation of Heath, Adult Education, and Transportation”. From this simple mission statement Evangeline Home Health has grown to serve the urban areas of Lake Charles, Lafayette, and all of the Acadiana Region.
Foundation: Nursing and Public Health
In the early days of our heritage, Ms. Deanie McWhorter, RN, provided the leadership and vision that would carry our organization through the formative years. Ms Deanie’s training and experience at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans, where she excelled in surgery and nursing, gave her the medical background to work with local doctors on complex cases. As Evangeline began to grow, Ms. Deanie hired nurses that were like herself: well trained, competent, energetic and devoted to serving others. Evangeline gained the trust of physicians and families around all of the Acadiana Region. Ms. Deanie helped form the organization that would become the Home Care Association of Louisiana and served on the original board of directors. She was recently inducted into the Louisiana Home Health Hall of Honor along with her husband and partner, Edward “Ted” McWhorter.
Formation: Research, Education, Innovation
In 1993 Melicia “Lisi” Coleman, RN, BSN joined Evangeline as a visit nurse after graduating from McNeese University School of Nursing and working as a floor nurse at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.
Lisi began to help in areas of administration, compliance, quality, and community education. It was also during this time that huge changes in home health reimbursement were taking place and many agencies nationally were going under. Lisi worked with the leadership team that emerged from this crucible of change including: the current Administrator, Bekki Miller, RN; Cindy Reavill, RN, Director of Nursing; Nicky Guillory, RN, Director of Operations; and Wendy Welch, RN, Assistant Director of Nursing. The average tenure of this leadership is over twenty years with Evangeline and service to the community. This continuity of leadership and integrity has seen Evangeline grow from a small rural agency into one of the largest single agencies in the state.
Over the past 45 years Evangeline has always had a drive toward innovation and research. This emphasis led to a startling and meaningful discovery affecting Public Health in Acadiana. One of the early research achievements of Evangeline Home Health was the discovery of a heretofore unknown gene pool of Tay Sachs disease in a small French community in Northern Acadia Parish. A baby with Tay-Sachs disease appears healthy at birth, and seems to be developing normally for a few months. Symptoms generally appear by six months of age. While symptoms vary from one child to the next, there is always a slowing down of development. Gradually, Tay-Sachs children lose motor skills and mental functions. Over time, the child becomes blind, deaf, mentally retarded, paralyzed and non-responsive to the environment. Tay-Sachs children usually die by age five. Together with Tulane Medical School and geneticist Dr. Emmanuel Schapiro Evangeline nurses tested over 1600 persons over a two-week period, and identified a carrier rate in excess of 5 % in the area. This effort was noted nationally in Newsday, The Los Angeles Times and national evening news programs. This effort was done at no cost to the community or the patients.
In 1996 Lisi was working on a Quality Team at Evangeline that was looking into Length of Stay for a certain subgroup of patients. They found a common issue in a majority of these patients: Low Vision and the inability to take care of activities of daily living. Over the next 5 years Lisi developed the HomeSight® Program, a turnkey training program for home health agencies to address low vision rehabilitation in the home. The HomeSight® Program was marketed nationally and culminated in over 100 locations providing the HomeSight® Program by 2004.
After the HomeSight® Program became successful nationally, Lisi began to expand the model to agencies she owned and operated in New Orleans, Texas, and Colorado. During this time Evangeline continued to grow and established its headquarters in Basile, La in order to better serve the metropolitan areas of Lake Charles and Lafayette. In 2012 Evangeline was contacted by Robert Massof, PhD, professor of Ophthalmology and Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Massof is the founder of the Lions Vision Research Center at the Wilmer Eye Institute. Evangeline was invited to participate in a 5-year NIH funded study on A Comparison of Low Vision Outcome Measures. The study is in the last year and has been presented at conferences nationally and internationally by Dr. Massof.
Providing superior care requires a committed team. Evangeline is proud to have a team of dedicated individuals. Satisfied and trained employees are a priority. Since 2011 Evangeline has developed and continues to refine a robust employee enrichment program. Recently, Evangeline partnered with Chuck Ihli, DPT and Elite Home Rehab as Director of Therapy to prepare for the demands of new models of care including “bundled payments with hospital partners”. Together the partnership will develop new disease management programs and protocols for evidence based outcomes.
Future: Strategic Partnerships, Alignment, and Advocacy
In 2011 Lisi assumed the duties of CEO of Evangeline Home Health and is the current President of the Home Care Association of Louisiana.
Leading a team of incredible professionals Lisi has added technology, national consulting, and therapy leadership to Evangeline. The agency is forging a future with a forward thinking strategic plan implemented in 2011 and continues to evolve over the last six years. Guy Davis, LCDC, LBSW was added to the leadership team as the Regional Director of Strategic Initiatives to discover new partnership opportunities to expand our ability to meet the needs of our patients and the medical community. Through this imperative we have developed collaborations and relationships with area physicians and other health care entities for expansion of wellness programs, transitional care, medication administration for assisted living facilities, chronic disease management, end of life care and in home aid and attendants for Veterans.
Evangeline Home Health recently joined the VNAA becoming the only free-standing not-for-profit agency in Louisiana to become a Visiting Nurse Association member. VNAA is a national trade association that supports, promotes and advocates for mission-driven providers of home health, hospice and palliative care. VNAA’s members provide cost-effective and compassionate home health and hospice care to the nation’s most vulnerable individuals, particularly the elderly and individuals with disabilities.