To keep up with the increased demand for home health care during the pandemic, the LHC Group plans to recruit at least 12 positions in northeast Florida.

Joann Sorensen, vice president of sales for the LHC Group in northeast Florida, said the number could change based on demand. She said there are opportunities for more registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, physical therapists, social workers and certified nursing assistants.

CNA positions are continually being hired to keep up with demand for Apex ‘private nursing, she said.

These patients require more basic care, including bathing, cooking, cleaning, and dressing.

That year, Sorensen said her department hired more than 60 people. As home health care becomes more accessible and desirable for patients, she expects the LHC Group’s presence in the region to grow.

The company is also using contract workers to fill gaps in staff until it can find a permanent replacement, she said.

In Jacksonville, the LHC Group operates two Apex Home Healthcare offices – Apex Companion Care and St. Vincent’s Home Health. Apex also has locations in Fleming Island and St. Augustine.

Apex Home Healthcare and St. Vincent’s Home Health offer transitional nursing care, disease management, behavioral medicine, pain management, speech therapy, and nurse training. Apex Companion Care offers private nursing.

It has offices in Riverside, North Jacksonville and Southside.

Since the pandemic started, Sorensen has seen an influx of patients who would rather be treated from home than in a hospital or nursing home.

“There are more and more patients who don’t want to go to hospital,” said Sorensen. “You don’t want to go to a nursing home or a rehab facility. You are looking for home care as the answer to keeping yourself at home and in a familiar environment. “

Changes to Medicare have made home health care easier.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act changed the requirements that a patient had to be considered homebound in order to receive home health care. Now they can qualify for home health care through Medicare if they are high risk patients.

The requirement that a patient must visit a doctor in person in order to obtain Medicare home health benefits has also been removed. This can now be done virtually.

“We hope some of these changes will continue after COVID,” she said.

Given the low cost to the patient and to Medicare, Sorensen expects health care to continue growing.

“If you manage the disease process, we can do that at home,” she said. “And we can do that for the patient, and the cost of Medicare is way less than going to an inpatient facility.”