Photo: Pictured above, Gadsden’s Printup building located on 135 N. Fourth Street serves as Alabama Home Healthcare Providers’ primary office location. (Katie Bohannon/Messenger)
By Katie Bohannon, Staff Writer
The first Black home healthcare provider in Alabama is potentially establishing its agency in Gadsden. Despite a few setbacks, Alabama Home Healthcare Providers innovator W. Charles Jackson remains hopeful that a bright beginning for local healthcare is just around the corner.
Before he moved to Florida to expand his medical profession, Jackson’s home was Gadsden. Jackson owned a Managed Healthcare company for over 15 years, contracting with over six HMO’s. He established managed care contracts with doctors in major cities like Tampa, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida. Returning to Gadsden always remained in his heart. He established Alabama Home Healthcare Providers in 2018 and began ascertaining the proper information regarding establishing a Home Healthcare Agency.
“Having come from Gadsden, I know Gadsden,” said Jackson. “I know what the needs are in Gadsden. It’s always been in the back of my mind to come back home and begin to make an impact.”
As a hospital administrator and managed healthcare professional for 40 years, Jackson understands the requirements necessary to create a balanced relationship between healthcare providers and patients while ensuring that patients receive the most efficient and effective services possible. Jackson examined the delivery of healthcare in relation to minorities and discovered that education played a significant role in the application of healthcare. In understanding the needs of Black and Brown communities and patients overall, Jackson determined that home healthcare provided a great platform to educate individuals while offering needed services.
“In doing Research and Development we contacted Alabama State Health Department and indicated to them that we had medical contracts in South Florida,” said Jackson. “This was [during] a time when Alabama began to transition to manage care with health maintenance organizations coming in. We recognized back then that we had contracts with several HMO’s and it would be a good idea to start a home healthcare program in Alabama.”
Jackson said after communicating with Alabama State Department regarding license for a Home Healthcare Agency in the State of Alabama as a contracted provider with HMO’s, he was informed to contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding their requirements. Per aspects of CMS requirements, he opened an office for Alabama Home Healthcare Providers in the Printup building at 135 N. Fourth Street in downtown Gadsden and received a Pending Approval from CMS in December 2019. Although Jackson battled several complications while trying to obtain the certification, in June he received a notification that after going through a final process in Montgomery, the state should provide CMS with the tie-in to complete the process for certification in Gadsden.
“We are the first Black organization in the state of Alabama that will be a medical home healthcare operation,” said Jackson. “It is my understanding that there were a number of Blacks that tried to put home health agency in Alabama, but for whatever reason, they were not successful. [Currently] there is not a Black or Brown home healthcare agency in Alabama. While collaborating with folks in Gadsden and rural areas, [I learned] they are all excited about the possibility of us providing home healthcare services for the population at large (contracting with HMOs).”
Jackson recognizes the tremendous need for his organization in Gadsden, especially concerning the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the certification process, Jackson plans to provide free services for a few months while the Joint Commission of accreditation evaluates his staff to determine that the agency understands all the intricacies of providing home healthcare services.
“[If Alabama Home Healthcare Providers were to establish in Gadsden] local residents would gain employment opportunities and more education as it relates to home healthcare and healthcare [in general],” said Jackson. “We’ll work with high schools providing part-time employment opportunities for students interested in the health field.”
The difficulties Jackson overcame while working to establish Alabama Home Healthcare Providers in Gadsden never rattled his mission. With a lifelong love for healthcare that stems from working with dedicated staff members to provide excellent quality (and quantitative) healthcare to people, Jackson enjoys having the opportunity to operate as an advocate best of all. His greatest concern is serving as a voice to the voiceless, using the resources available that he has to provide services to people who need them the most, but perhaps who cannot speak for themselves.
In the future, Jackson hopes that Alabama Home Healthcare Providers will do more than assist individuals by meeting their medical needs — he wants to make a difference in his hometown. From providing contributions to Gadsden’s school systems and senior citizens to donating to developmental youth initiatives, Jackson plans to encourage and positively affect local life through financial contributions and volunteering. While bringing Alabama Home Healthcare Providers to Gadsden has proved a complicated process, Jackson believes that the manifestation will be worth the wait.