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Robert Trigaux

Amid recession, bullish times at Humana center



Veteran RN Bernadette Preyna gave me a VIP tour Tuesday morning of the expanding, 37,000-square-foot Humana national care center in St. Petersburg's Carillon office park. Adding jobs in St. Petersburg in this ugly recession? Booya!

Managed care giant Humana last week said it's hiring a "couple dozen" registered nurses, social workers, community health educators and other support staff as part of this 275-employee Humana Cares national operations and service center. Humana says it added about 100 employees since last fall. By the end of 2009, Humana plans to expand staff at the center to more than 325. New employees start with two straight weeks of training, eight hours a day.

Needless to say, at Tuesday's grand opening the Humana executives, the St. Pete city mayor (and slightly tardy) Rick Baker, area chamber chief John Long and other assorted economic development folks issued bullish statements. And admittedly, wandering about, the Humana facility on the second floor of 800 Carillon Parkway -- just up the street from Bright House Networks and across the street from Raymond James Financial -- looks pretty nice.

Preyna is an RN at the facility on a team specializing in "specialty disorders" that includes long-term and difficult diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis or Lou Gehrig's disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Her "Humana Cares" team includes social workers and community health educators. Their goal: to reach some of the 30,000 Medicare Advantage low-income and disabled members and others experiencing multiple health conditions and figure out how to improve their health situations. That can range from reviewing medications and ensuring pharmacy and transportation needs to looking for signs of depression or dementia and getting family members in touch with local community resources.

Looks like a good start. Who isn't for more preventive and follow-up care these days? When Humana central Florida president Sid Morgan spoke and praised Humana Cares president Jean Bisio, she got some rousing applause from dozens of attending workers.

Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Ken., is one of the nation’s largest publicly traded health and supplemental benefits companies, with approximately 10.6 million medical members. Its stock trades just above $40 lately.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:24am]


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