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Published on December 14, 2021

home health aid helping senior with meds

Home Health Program Blossoms After Proactive Firefighter Wonders How to Help More

You or someone you love might need a little extra help at home. Continuing to live well at home means increasing awareness of what resources are available in your community.

To better serve Sioux Falls and the surrounding communities, Avera@Home partnered with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue to create the ENRICH program, which connects people of all ages and needs with local resources.

ENRICH stands for Extending Necessary Resources and Information for Care at Home. Its ministry has been implemented in multiple Avera communities around the region.

Avera’s mission to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities is a very broad, all-encompassing goal. While Avera makes a positive impact in terms of health and healing of the body, mind and spirit, there are aspects of our lives that go beyond health care, such as need for healthy food, personal safety and decent housing. Avera partners with more than 250 organizations that align with its mission, helping to expand and enhance this mission beyond Avera facilities.

“We saw an opportunity to bring people together as partners to improve life in our communities,” said Ryan Cox, Captain of the Community Risk Reduction program within Sioux Falls Fire Rescue.

Already they're noticing a difference.

Calls for help after a fall, called lift assists, have steadily increased over the past several years. There were 699 in 2016, which increased to 1,072 by 2020. The new program was implemented in April of 2021. For the first time in years, the department didn't see a large increase, with 1,073. 

Improvements continue into 2022 with a 20% reduction so far through Feb. 15 compared to the year prior. 

"The work of everyone involved has made a difference in getting people the help that was truly needed," Cox said. 

How ENRICH Started for Better Homecare

Cox was first “on the scene” of ENRICH. While working in operations, Cox responded to a high number of lift assist calls, and in his new role, he works with the crews on the floor who are responding to calls for lift assist support.

When he entered homes, Cox noticed that individuals could use additional help with mobility around the house, medical care or taking care of chores. While looking for resources to help the people the fire department served, he found himself talking with Molly Heeney, Manager of Patient Care Coordinators with Avera@Home, about his concerns.

Within months, the ENRICH program of delivering the right resources to the right people at the right time came to fruition. For example, individuals who repeatedly fell in their home were equipped with grab bars in high-risk areas from Avera Home Medical Equipment.

Because Avera@Home serves people within a wide radius, their team could help extend ENRICH as well.

“It feels good that experts are looking in on a situation and helping people move in the right direction,” said Cox. “It offers our crews the peace of mind that someone is looking after these individuals and offering the appropriate assistance.”

Not only do people receive needed care, but the ENRICH program has solved many recurring phone calls to the fire department — which opens communication and frees up response for other high priority emergencies in the region.

Find the Right Community and Health Services

The scope of who and how ENRICH can help is quite broad. When you contact ENRICH, an Avera@Home patient care coordinator identifies the right support resources available in the community to help.

Local services include, but are not limited to:

  • Medication management
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy
  • Home medical equipment, such as grab bars or stair lifts
  • Transportation to appointments or for personal needs
  • Housekeeping
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Life Alert® setup

“People get emotional,” said Heeney. “Many who have used ENRICH have said that they don’t know why they struggled alone for so long.”

Some community resources are entirely free, and often health-related resources are covered by health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. The patient care coordinators can provide this information for you.

Contact ENRICH for Help at Home

The best way to reach the ENRICH program is to call 605-322-HOME (4663) and ask for Molly Heeney of Avera@Home. You can also get information at

If you are calling in concern for a loved one, friend or neighbor, you must receive their permission for Avera@Home to follow up with a phone call. Individuals receive a free health assessment in their home to identify needs.

“ENRICH is a free, no-obligation educational resource,” clarified Heeney. “There is no harm in reaching out to learn more about what you have access to in your community. Education is power.”

This is part of a series on community partnerships across Avera’s five-state footprint and how these organizations are creating important changes in our communities.

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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