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Adapting to Change with Home Health Care

Casey Harlow / HPR

Among the many changes that have been sparked by the coronavirus is care for the elderly. And that has led to changes for those who provide home health care here in Hawaii.

Shelley Wilson was just 21 when she started her Hawaii business as Wilson in Home, Inc. Now 46, she has grown her business to Wilson Care Group, including Wilson Home Care and Wilson Senior Living, and is now the largest licensed home care provider in the state. This has been a very personal business journey, inspired by her own experience with a long and difficult recovery from a near-fatal car accident when she was 18.

Wilson had been in the process of expanding into adult day care service when the coronavirus emerged. Demand has fallen—and she’s had to postpone that move. With lots of people still working from home, they’ve been able to keep an eye on their own family members. Wilson is also seeing the same phenomenon a lot of health care providers are seeing: avoidance. Anxious about catching or spreading Covid-19, people have been avoiding health care settings. With demand dropping for various services, Wilson Care Group has relied on a million-dollar Paycheck Protection Program loan to keep employees.  

Wilson and her team have made dramatic operational changes for the coronavirus era in their senior care home. At one point, nurses in her Kailua senior living facility volunteered to live for 30 days, full-time, in the facility, to avoid entirely the risk of bringing in infections from the outside.

Hilton Raethel, president and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, says such extraordinary efforts are part of why Hawaii has not yet seen the kind of care home outbreaks experienced on the Mainland.

Throughout the pandemic, Wilson has actually launched new businesses, BeWellHawaii.com and AlohaMask.com, to provide the community with personal protective equipment.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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