Health Check: Home health care services

Four-year-old Hailey McGee was starved as an infant.

"And she has seizure disorder from it, and cerebral palsy and breathing issues," said her adoptive mother, Cindy McGee.

McGee is helping insure Hailey lives her best life. That's why a year ago she contacted Bayada Home Health Care, which assigned her Pam Thornton, a licensed practical nurse who took to Hailey right away.

"We call her 'Beanie Boo' because she's just so cute and happy and she's inspirational," Thornton said.

And apparently Hailey is responding to Thornton, who comes in to the home four days a week, seven hours each day.

"So I do her nursing, her medical. We're part of a team with all the doctors. We do her educational and then I do all her therapy. So she has speech therapy. She has occupational therapy," Thornton said.

What a difference in just one year.

"She's doing a lot more. She's in a gait trainer. She can hold her head up really well. She's making noises. Yes, she's doing phenomenal," McGee said.

"I like to compare myself to Mary Poppins. I kind of go in there and I fix them to where I think they need to be and then I feel like I can move on," Thornton said.

That's why home health care services can be beneficial to so many people with medical issues who want to remain home and more independent. Just in Rhode Island, there are 68 home care agencies.

"We provide over a million home care visits annually to 20,000 patients," said Laurie Ellison.

Ellison owns her own home care agency and is the president of the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care. A few months ago, she helped choose Thornton as this years' recipient of the Heart of Home Care Award.

"We chose Pam this year because of her knowledge, her energy, her compassion for the services she provides to Hailey on a daily basis," Ellison said.

"I was so grateful. I'm very humbled. But again, it's not why we do it. It's for the patient," Thornton said.

Who might benefit from home health care services? For one, children like Hailey who are medically fragile and adults with medical needs who want to stay in the home.