BY LAURA MULROONEY, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — She walked up to her mother’s house, who had recently returned home from a recent short term stay in hospice care, with a crowd of people outside of her mother’s front door. She cried with worry, wondering why all these people were here. She assumed the worst. As she approached she heard singing, she heard Christmas carols. Volunteers from Suncoast Hospice and Empath Health had gathered to sing her mother’s favorite songs.
According to Karen Davis-Pritchett, the Community Partnership specialist for Empath Health in Pinellas County, these are the types of heart-warming stories you hear when you travel around the county promoting the resources of Empath Health, a nonprofit, integrated network of care, which supports anyone facing chronic or advanced illness.
The more people you meet, the more stories you hear, and the more rewarding the position is believes Davis-Pritchett.
L-R, Karen Davis-Pritchett, Comm. Ken Welch, former Mayor Rick Baker and Rafael Scuillo at an event at Empath Health.
As a Pinellas County resident, Davis-Pritchett had her own experience with Suncoast Hospice and Empath Health before she started her community outreach position a year ago. She admits she walked into her new position knowing the quality of care and the heart of the people she was going to promote to the community.
Davis-Pritchett’s position has allowed her to build partnerships within the community with special focus on African-American communities. She aims to educate everyone in her path about the programs and services of Empath Health.
Empath Health is a network of services, where residents are provided with choices of care, assistance on creating livings wills, advance care living, home health resources for those who require special skills sets to be sent to their home, such as physical therapy and other skills separate from hospice.
The organization also offers community support for those who need bereavement support and counseling, senior care services and HIV care and prevention services.
Suncoast PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) delivers a variety of senior care services, including in-home care and support, primary medical care, specialty care, adult day care and transportation. Empath Health’s goal is to promote independent living and to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations.
The Suncoast PACE center, located at 6774 102nd Ave. N, Pinellas Park, is a “fantastic, modern, safe space for elders,” said Davis-Pritchett.
The HIV care and prevention services, known as ASAP (AIDS Service Association of Pinellas), provide long-term care, support and compassion to those impacted by HIV/AIDS and prevention programs. ASAP coordinates care that help clients maintain healthy lives, while providing assistance to caregivers and families, along with community testing and education.
Suncoast Hospice is the most utilized program Empath Health offers and is the largest program to date according to Davis-Pritchett. Hospice care focuses on end-of-life care for those with an advanced or chronic illness. Hospice care helps clients and their families manage their symptoms and cope with the disease.
“The staff was understanding, very warm, and inviting. They told us step by step what to expect. The staff and volunteers were encouraging, there were no restrictions for the amount of visitors and they even made my mom comfortable when she wanted to stay overnight,” said Davis-Pritchett, as she recounted her own experience.
Spiritual care advisors, nurses, doctors and volunteers are available for the clients, family members and their needs.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help and to trust Empath to provide care for you and your loved ones,” remarked Davis-Pritchett. “Empath is here for the life journey, to help you and your family, looking holistically at the patient’s life and how the illness affects them, their family and their extended family.”
Some cost of services is based off of income while others require the use of health insurance or out-of-pocket payment.
For more information about the services provided by Empath Health, visit their website at empathhealth.org or contact Karen Davis-Pritchett to arrange a presentation in your community at 727-773-7638 or karendavis-