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Provider Regina Gillispie on sharing the pain

Provider Regina Gillispie on sharing the pain

BARBOURSVILLE, W.Va. – What has it been like to be a respiratory provider in a largely rural state during the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic? “It’s been very scary,” says Regina Gillispie, president and owner of Best Home Medical in Barboursville, W.Va. 

Hear how Gillispie, a recent guest on the HME News in 10 podcast, is trying to share the pain with her members of Congress on social media, to the point where she jokes, “I’m their favorite stalker.” 

Master juggler 

Over the winter, in addition to managing a company trying to deal with an increase in demand for oxygen therapy for COVID-19 patients, Gillispie had Mother Nature to reckon with. 

“I can definitely say it’s an adventure, just trying to juggle everything,” she said. “In one week, we had a snowstorm, an ice storm and flooding. That resulted in power outages – some that lasted about two weeks in duration. So, my drivers have been out delivering tanks quite a bit, and in a rural area, it’s very difficult because of the miles we travel and the terrain we travel. That week, we had two vehicles towed that ended up in ditches. But thankfully the drivers were safe and got the patients taken care of.” 

Driver anxiety 

Gillispie requires masks in her offices and outfitted them with air sanitizers, but she’s constantly worried about her drivers. 

“The drivers are wearing full PPE in the homes, (including) N95 masks,” she said. “It definitely increases costs, but to me, it didn’t matter. I was more concerned about the safety of my employees and patients, because I didn’t want us carrying the virus from one patient to the next. We’ve only had one driver who contracted the virus and he had a very mild case, so we’re thankful.” 

Social media savvy 

Gillispie has let her senators know about those increased costs in posts on Twitter, complete with photos of her delivery vans in ditches. 

“The cost of the tow truck and the overtime – none of this is factored into the fee schedule,” she said. “They need to keep in mind that, during a power outage, we were keeping people in their homes. They appreciate getting that information, because it helps them go to CMS on our behalf.” 

Active advocate 

Actively engaging with her senators and their health LAs on social media is only one way Gillispie tries to “stay in front of them.” 

“I email them once every two weeks to give an update on what’s going on,” she said. “Even when the riots happened on Jan. 6, I was emailing all those staffers in those offices, checking on them. They all got back to me. Now when I go to (Washington, D.C.), Sen. Manchin knows who I am and Sen. Capito knows who I am.” 



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