Humana's outreach program for the chronically ill is expanding its mission again and hiring another 270 workers out of its St. Petersburg headquarters to get the job done.
The hiring spree will build Humana Cares to a workforce of 780, less than two years after it opened. Add in the health insurance giant's other operations and it solidifies Humana as one of the Tampa Bay region's biggest employers, with more than 2,000 workers.
The news, expected to be announced today, is a welcome jolt to a region hard hit by job cuts the past three years. Tampa Bay's unemployment rate of 12.3 percent for July is higher than both the state's jobless rate (11.5 percent) and the national rate (9.6 percent).
Sid Morgan, chairman of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and a former Humana executive, called the expansion "a much-needed boost to St. Petersburg's business community and to the overall health of our bay area economy."
Throughout the recession, health care has been one of the state's most resilient industries. Over the last year alone, Florida added 20,600 health care jobs while other industries, such as construction and information services, shed workers.
Home health care, in particular, has benefited from aging baby boomers. Last year, home health care services grew by 11.2 percent, the fastest-growing sector in the country, according to North Carolina financial analysis firm Sageworks.
Humana opened its Humana Cares complex care management unit in the Carillon Business Park 19 months ago with 250 employees. Its goal is to provide some 60,000 chronically ill Humana members with a resource — both over the phone and through home visitations — to deal with medical, social and psychological challenges.
"This program is unique in that our goal is always to keep our members independent and safe in their homes with the highest quality of life they can have," Humana Cares president Jean Bisio said.
Initially, Humana Cares was strictly for Medicare Advantage members. Over the months, it expanded to include commercial members, Medicare-Medicaid dual-eligible workers and members who have retired but are still receiving coverage through their former employers.
The program now is also helping members with rare diseases and other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, that may require special home assistance.
"We originally came to the Tampa Bay area because of the heavy concentration of Medicare members," Bisio said. "But what we found is that the Tampa Bay area has supported us very significantly in terms of very qualified people to hire as well as people to train."
The new hires will include nurses, social workers and education specialists. Some will work at the call center, some from their own home and some will be field reps.
The company has slated an open house at its headquarters at 800 Carillon Parkway from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 2. To set up an interview at the jobs fair, call Humana Cares at (727) 329-4808 or (727) 329-4827. Or apply online for available positions at humana.com/resources/about/ careers.