Intrepid USA Healthcare Services: Hospice hearts doing the right thing

Left to right: Jenna Green, LPN, executive director Home Hospice; Tara Palmer, RN, nurse case manager; Heather Keyes, CNA; Seanna Bridgewater, LPN; and Amber Perry, RN, HS patient care coordinator, are ready to welcome visitors to their City Center location. (Photo by Cathy Welch)

Intrepid USA Healthcare Services is a healthcare and hospice service provider committed to sustaining a culture of togetherness, diversity and inclusion. The organization’s hospice division has 19 locations in 17 states; six in Virginia. It has been a HEALTHCAREfirst Hospice Honors recipient for three years.

Intrepid opened its Newport News location in June after five years serving the Peninsula from Virginia Beach.

Jenna Green, LPN (licensed practical nurse), executive director Home Hospice, oversees most of Intrepid’s Virginia Hospice locations. She began her nursing career running an Alzheimer’s/dementia unit in assisted-living.

“I have always had a hospice heart,” she says.

Green’s right hand in Newport News is Amber Perry, RN, HS patient care coordinator, who began her medical career in 2006, earned her RN in 2014 and worked mainly in hospice. Perry’s mom is a long-time radiologic technologist. For nine years, the two cared for Perry’s grandmother who had Alzheimer’s, fueling her hospice heart.

“I know I can’t make everyone’s hospice experience be what they deserve,” she explains. “But if, because of our team, one less family has to go through what we did — that’s everything.”

By the time Tara Palmer, RN and nurse case manager, was nine, most of her father’s family had passed away.

“We were in and out of hospitals and funeral homes,” she says of her early days. “I became a CNA (certified nursing assistant) in long-term care working alongside a wonderful hospice and wanted to grow that knowledge.”

While performing skilled care at Williamsburg Landing, Palmer met Perry. “I had a wonderful mentor in Amber,” Palmer says. Perry brought her to Intrepid.

Palmer does admissions in patients’ homes or in hospital. She follows through with each skilled visit and assessment to provide the best level of care throughout their journey.

“We work to ensure everything is set up for the hospital patient so the family comes home to a peaceful environment, not chaos,” she explains. “We get such a small timeframe to help families and provide comfort.”

Seanna Bridgewater, LPN, has been with Intrepid for more than three years, transferring to Newport News last year. “I make nursing visits daily,” Bridgewater says of her role assisting the RNs. “I think the most important and rewarding aspect of our work is a peaceful transition.”

“We never felt alone or lost for someone to call, even in the middle of the night,” former hospice family caregiver Pat Randolph says. “Seanna gently led our family with confidence and empowered us with the next steps of care,” she says.

Heather Keyes, CNA, provides for hospice patients’ personal care needs: bed baths, applying lotions and giving patient massages. “It’s all about companionship,” Keyes says. “I have a dementia patient who kisses my cheek when I walk in and wants to hold my hand while I work.”

Under current CEO, John M. Kunysz, Jr., MBA, CPA, FACHE, Intrepid opened several new hospice offices. Some locations offer private duty, home health, palliative care and hospice. Kunysz’s vision is to offer a continuum of care in all their communities.

“We only have one chance to give what the patient and family deserves,” Perry says of her team’s passion. “Everyone’s mission is to make this experience the best possible.”

Intrepid treats mind, body and spirit. It provides a chaplain by special request. “My goal is to help patients and family members faced with end-of-life decisions,” Chaplain Chuck Crowley says. “I hope to help them to be in a more peaceful mindset.”

“We’re working to build a culture with a real team approach, positivity and rewards,” Green says.

Medicare mandates interdisciplinary meetings every 14 days when the team meets with their medical director and discusses each patient. Newport News caregivers call and check on each other. Though the firm offers a 13-month bereavement program for its patients’ families and offers support after their loved one has passed, Intrepid’s team members care for each other.

Since each of them develops personal bonds with patients, they share and reminisce over breakfast or lunch for their own healing. “A patient passes who we could’ve been with a year and you are the strong one for their family,” Perry says. “That doesn’t mean you’re not grieving that person.”

Intrepid’s Peninsula staff celebrates patients’ birthdays with cards, lunch, balloons or cake. They do mini spa days, fixing hair and makeup to pamper them.

“Amber took extra time speaking
sweetly with mom,” says client Debi
McNichol, who received hospice services from Intrepid. “Music was good for mom’s mind and Amber sang with her.”

“Intrepid makes a difference in the life of each patient and forever touches the lives of its caregivers,” Randolph says.

About Cathy Welch 60 Articles
Cathy Welch is a Hampton Roads-based writer, photographer and book editor. She says her life is an eclectic mix of career and FAMILY. She earned our Bachelors degree in business administration at Christopher Newport University, minoring in Spanish. Her career has been full- and part-time as an administrator, an engineering assistant, a bookseller, a merchandiser, a naval photography layout assistant, an office manager, a grant writer and a human resource manager, all giving her experiences that feed her writing. She fosters pups and does what she can to bless those who are in need, whether human or canine. She can be reached at 757-870-0768 or at cathywelch25@gmail.com.

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