As America prepares for National Nurses Week, it’s important to remember that not all nurses work in the pristine setting of the nation’s hospitals and medical clinics.

Home health nurses, like many other providers, brave the elements year-round to provide the care they need to people living in their home country. While many of these patients have been sent home after hospital or outpatient procedures, not all are in this situation.

Sterling MedCare Home Health employees include, from left, Brittany Kimbel, Michelle Cox-Shorter, Cindy Watanabe, Deb Lechman, Stephanie Hull, Deb Fitzjohn, Vitaly Zagidulin, and Stacey Higgins. (Jeff Rice / Journal-Advocate)

Cindy Watanabe, director of nursing at Sterling MedCare Home Health, Inc., said it was a common misconception that home health care is only available to the recently discharged.

“If you qualify for home health care, you can be referred directly by your doctor without going to a hospital or rehab facility,” Watanabe said. “This is often the case with people coping with multiple chronic conditions, and people recently diagnosed with a serious illness or who are struggling to cope with their daily tasks.”

Sterling MedCare has been operating since 1995 and today employs more than 20 people based in its neighborhood at 614 S. 10th Ave.

“We are the doctor’s eyes and hands at home,” said Vitaly Zagidulin, an RN at Sterling MedCare.

Patients choose home health care because it is an economical alternative to extended hospital stays, especially for those who do not require constant monitoring or frequent checkups. Home health care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance companies, making it an affordable option for most people. Stephanie Hull, nursing coordinator at Sterling MedCare, said the frequency and length of care are determined by the healthcare provider.

The service provided by nurses trained to provide the highest level of care means a patient can maintain the independence of living at home while they recuperate. The nurses also assist other caregivers – usually family members – who may lack medical knowledge of things like wound care, catheterization, and other procedures.

Sterling MedCare’s range of services is extensive and includes occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech therapy and household help

“It’s really about the dignity of being in your own home, giving you your independence and the initiative to control your surroundings,” said Watanabe. “It’s also about education so that you can make your recovery with confidence.”

National Nurses Week is celebrated from May 6th to May 12th each year, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. For more information on Sterling MedCare Home Health Care, please visit