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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Nurses Week: Honoring Home Health Care Professionals Who Stepped Up During the Pandemic

National Nurses’ Week is held annually from May 6 – May 12, 2022. KCBD News explored the history of recognizing nurses who work tirelessly to provide healthcare and make invaluable community contributions. Findings indicated that although the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare’s  Dorothy Sutherland wanted President Eisenhower to proclaim a “Nurse Day” in 1954, but it did not immediately come to fruition. In February of 1974, the White House determined that a National Nurse Week would finally be established. President Nixon followed through with issuing a proclamation for it.

The pandemic revived the need to appreciate nurses more. They have recently been tasked with caring for ill patients in high-risk situations, often under extremely challenging conditions. Nurses, and other healthcare workers, put their lives on the line through the COVID-19 pandemic.

   Charronne Jones, owner of Aamira Home Care (AHC),  stands tall among unsung heroes who contribute to offering diverse health options in the community. Jones founded the concierge-based business for private care patients to fulfill her dream of helping seniors and others needing assistance with daily living activities, without requiring them to leave their homes. The registered nurse and certified case manager with more than thirty years of experience in the healthcare field, has owned Annapolis-based AHC for at least 13 years. Along with her husband, Seth Jones, Charronne opened Benevolent Home Health Care. The 21-year-old business is primarily run by Seth. County and state contracts for Medicaid are the focus of this enterprise.

   Charronne’s extensive nursing experience is tied to the couple’s healthcare operations. Her nursing career commenced in 1985. Through AHC, Charronne employs approximately 120 individuals who provide everything from personal care services to meal preparation. Home health care is provided to clients in Anne Arundel County, the Baltimore metropolitan area, and Prince George’s County.  She remarked that during the pandemic, diverse home health care requests increased.

   “I think the main change with us during the pandemic was that people wanted more short-term care,” Jones said, mentioning the shift in some of AHC’s patient’s needs. “Whereas during the pandemic, people wanted services during the time that they were in the COVID crisis, so it may have been two weeks to maybe two months.”

   Additionally, a portion of Medicaid patients were running out of food. AHC’s health care providers addressed food needs and drove them to doctor’s appointments. Now that the pandemic has improved, AHC health professions are getting back to serving people who need medical support on a longer-term basis. Although 70% of clients are seniors, 30% are people who have chronic conditions or illness.

“Traditionally with dealing with people who have chronic diseases, we usually provide services for several years, and our care plans are really authorized at a year at a time,” Charronne said, noting that these clients’ health conditions rarely improve.

   Amid nurses being charmed to work for big contracts during the COVID-19 crisis, certified nursing assistants who were potential new hires wanted higher work rates. Charronne was challenged by the reality of being able to afford the change, during the pandemic. Others preferred to continue working with patients one on one. In these cases, their loyalty remains despite the potential to make more money. AHC primarily hires mostly certified nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses. A lesser number of registered nurses hold supervisory positions.

   “When you do home (health) care, it’s something that you really like. Not only do you like it, you get really invested in what you do,” Jones said. “When you work in nursing homes and hospitals, your patients are in and out… and you really don’t … get to know the patients. So, I think aside from just…the people being very loyal to us, we’re very loyal to them as well.”

   In addition to recognizing nurses who continue to work during the pandemic, it is important to acknowledge a trailblazer who was the first professional African-American nurse in the U.S.

“The profession began to change when Mary Eliza Mahoney, often noted as the first black nurse in history, graduated from nursing school and was the first African American nurse to be licensed,” Chamberlain University reported.  

   Additionally, MinorityNurse.com provides statistics indicating that only 9.9% of registered nurses are African American or black. With this in mind, Charronne’s journey of providing resources and support with her staff for clients who desire to receive service at home health care is even more special.

   “And when I do, that really makes me happy,” Charronne said.

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