2 min read October 2021 — Wave Healthcare was founded in 2007 to provide respiratory care for the children and neonatal populations of San Antonio in their home environment. In 2017, Sail Healthcare opened its doors so that patients from Wave Healthcare, who were transitioning to adult respiratory care, could have access to the same level of quality services they had become accustomed to. In an interview with Invest:, CEO Rodney Gray discussed the challenges for the pediatric home medical equipment provider during the pandemic and how the talents of his staff and collaboration of several pulmonologists helped the community it serves.
What was a top challenge Wave Healthcare faced and overcame during the pandemic?
The biggest challenge was trying to find a way to provide hands-on clinical care without being present or having direct access to patients. Especially at a time when families no longer felt safe with someone coming into their home and potentially putting their family at risk.
We needed to understand what steps to take and what resources were needed while facing an illness that was unfamiliar to the general population. Because we are dealing with life-sustaining respiratory equipment and must teach life-saving techniques in case of an emergency, our clinicians have always met face-to-face to provide intensive instruction. To ensure a safe and successful outcome, it is imperative that we work closely with the caregivers until they have fully demonstrated their comprehension of the education and training they received. That high level of communication is what creates a sustainable home care situation and reduces the odds of hospital readmittance which was so very critical at a time when bed capacity was overrun with COVID-19 patients.
In order to overcome the challenges we were facing, we knew the importance of getting the right people to the table. We identified the key partners we needed including a neonatologist, a pediatric pulmonologist, and an adult pulmonologist as well as our respiratory care practitioners. Collectively, they had insight that proved to be invaluable. Together they helped us work through the steps of creating safe patient outcomes while the landscape of everyday patient care was drastically changing.
What are the most important challenges to healthcare in San Antonio?
The biggest challenge is patients having access to quality care. For those who have access, managing the complexities of plan benefits is yet another hurdle. So often patients feel that once they have insurance, that should mean their needs are covered. However, when they put their plans to use, they are shocked to learn about the amount of limitations their plans actually have and that they are financially responsible for things they assumed would come with their coverage.
For Wave Healthcare, as a business, we have also had to endure a number of insurance related obstacles. Up until 2016, Texas Medicaid & Healthcare Partnership (TMHP) was the provider for Medicaid. When Texas switched to Managed Care Organization (MCOs), we began having to work through extensive negotiations and building new contracts with varying reimbursements. Our efforts continue to be ongoing as we work to parlay those changes into a win-win for our company, the insurance providers and most importantly for successful, sustainable outcomes for our patients in the homecare setting.
How has the labor shortage affected San Antonio and your operation specifically?
As the momentum of the pandemic was building, the shortage in the amount of clinical staff needed to take on the volume of patients that were showing up in San Antonio hospitals became dire. We recognized that we were one of the players that had the means to step up to the plate and do our part to assist with that overload. With the influx of COVID-19, it became very important that hospitals move children out which meant we had to admit a lot of new patients quickly. We had children who were critically ill that went from being weeks away from being discharged to needing to go home on ventilators in a matter of days. We had to make certain that with this heightened urgency, that we did not compromise the high level of clinical protocols we require for each patient.
Luckily, we had the staff ready and available to help make that happen. At Wave Healthcare we were very fortunate that we did not lose any employees. We have a significant number of employees that have been with our company since its inception. They have been instrumental in cultivating a culture of commitment to our patients and each other. To preserve that stability, our leadership team worked quickly to gather resources and implement remote access capabilities in order to keep our work family safe so that they could maintain contact with patients and be responsive to their needs.
What makes San Antonio a unique place?
It’s a statement frequently made by San Antonians, “We are a big small town.” We say that with tremendous pride because despite our population and ranking as the 7th largest city in the nation, when you come to San Antonio you feel the warmth and sincerity amongst the people who live, work and play here. You feel it as you pass a stranger on the street, you feel it in business gatherings with a room full of professionals. Everywhere you turn there is someone with a welcoming smile. It was an ideal place to plant our seed nearly 15 years ago and we are excited to share that San Antonio enthusiasm as we grow our services throughout the state!
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