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South Philly’s Home Health Hero

Olivanne “Anne” Pannone, HHA, named BAYADA’s “Home Health Aid Hero of the Year.”

Pannone with her daughters, left, Jaime and Elizabeth.

Since 1999, BAYADA has been recognizing compassionate, excellent and reliable home health-care professionals with its Hero of the Year Program. First nominated as a local hero, then as a division hero, South Philly resident, Olivanne “Anne” Pannone, HHA, has now been named the service’s “Home Health Aid Hero of the Year,” for her proactive approach in caregiving, and she was presented the award at the company’s annual meeting at the Philadelphia Convention Center.

“Anne is amazing. She greets everyone with a smile and a song,” Elizabeth Sweeney, BAYADA’s client services manager, said. “She wants to make an impact on people.”

In establishing this impact over the past seven years at BAYADA, Pannone has kept busy in providing bathing, dressing and cleaning services to clients, as well as companionship and food preparation. According to Sweeney, Pannone is always “going the extra mile” for her patients. Whether it’s through carrying labels in her bag for when she cleans out patient’s refrigerators and cabinets or by constantly checking smoke alarms, frayed rugs, and sharp objects around her clients’ homes, she is always willing to help in whatever way possible.

“She always wants to make things easier for her clients,” Sweeney said. “Large lettering and checking expiration dates go a long way.”

Pannone is also well known for her frequent singing to patients. Adding to her special demeanor, she’s described as “the voice for the people” because she often tells her clients that every day is independence day, and thus they need to stand up for themselves in each day.

“When I was growing up, it was during an era without electronics and technology, and so my mother would sing to me and I was always listening to records,” Pannone, a 64-year-old resident of 7th and Catherine streets, said. “Nursery rhymes were a vital part of life then, so I continue singing them to clients who are the perfect audience. All you have to do is just start singing a couple of lines and it triggers this memory in my clients that I call ‘mind pulling,’ because it pulls a memory out of their mind and it changes their demeanor.”

A part of her philosophy in helping each client, she explained she tries to engage them in singing all the time, whether it be just before helping administer personal care, or while simply standing outside. Ultimately, she likes to consider herself an ambassador of goodwill, bringing people together through song while trying to make every day like a party for her clients.

“Music therapy, like pet therapy and art therapy, needs to be brought back into home care,” Pannone, who has worked with more than 200 home health clients, stressed. “Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have them, so visiting agencies should start coming into these homes. It’s important because non-medicinal therapies promote absolute vigor in these clients, many of whom thought these things were lost in their lives.”

This realization of the importance of music in health care stems from Pannone’s long career in the health field, dating back far before she began her work with BAYADA. A native of Connecticut, she spent 24 years working in a clinic lab, while often spending time in a nursing home to assist in taking care of her mother.

“When I first came to South Philly I wanted to stay in health care and I saw an ad for BAYADA and said ‘Let me try that,’” Pannone, who originally moved to Philly to be closer to her three daughters who had relocated here, said. “When I interviewed it was with my current client services manager, Liz Sweeney, who has since become my role model, rock, friend and the person keeping me alive and well during the challenges of home care.”

Despite being nominated by Sweeney and selected for the BAYADA Home Health Care Hero of the Year award amongst thousands of other nominees, in addition to being named the 2017 Pennsylvania Direct Care Worker of the year by the Pennsylvania Homecare Association, Pannone remains extremely humble, explaining that she has just been doing her job.

“To have been nominated for the [BAYADA] award is such a wonderful gift because I feel like I am able to represent and advocate for every single home health aid, not just in Philly, but around the world,” Pannone said. “When I found out I won Home Health Aid of the Year I was speechless. It was unbelievable because I go about my day, not attempting to win awards, but with the mission to help and have my clients stay as totally independent for as long as possible.”

Describing herself as a “helper,” rather than an “aid,” Pannone said that when it comes to her clients she’s always right there to lend a hand. She added that for any problem she can’t help them solve herself, she is determined to find someone who can. This determination to assist others is simply how she chooses to live her life.

To view the BAYADA Home Health Care Hero of the Year award video featuring Pannone, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IO05IUeWmZw.

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