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Home Health Care Industry May Be Solution to Soaring Costs

MISSION HEALTHCARE

Directors: Jennifer Robinson, Mark Kimsey, Amy Nelson and Kerry Pawl.

Revenue: $9 million in 2011; $4.5 million in 2010.

No. of local employees: 200.

Investors: Self-funded.

Headquarters: Mission Valley.

Year founded: 2009.

Company description: A community-based home health agency providing three service lines — Home Health, Home Care and Hospice.

Key factors for success: Consideration for patients and staff; reinvesting excess profits; measuring success by doing the right thing.

Four San Diegans who cashed in their 401(k) plans to invest in a once failing business are seeing a dramatic turnaround.

In the spring of 2009, Jennifer Robinson, Mark Kimsey, Amy Nelson and Kerry Pawl exchanged leadership and management positions at CareSouth, a national provider of home health care, for an investment in Genesiscare, a failing home health care business housed in a dilapidated building in San Marcos. At the time of the purchase, Kimsey said the space was in foreclosure and the company had stopped paying its employees.

“For the first 120 days it was purely fix it, keep it going and then it really started to grow,” Kimsey said.

Under the guidance of the four founders, Genesiscare became Mission Healthcare, eight employees grew to 285 employees and revenues began to soar from $400,000 in 2009 to $4.5 million in 2010 and on up to $9 million in 2011.

The secret to their success, the co-founders say, is keeping their employees and patients satisfied. This is evident in “through the roof” positive surveys, according to the firm.

“The bonds you have with people within an organization are the best measure of success,” said Kimsey, adding that the company has been able to recruit and hire quality clinicians.

Hands-on Approach

Robinson also credits their hands-on approach that is manageable with their expertise. Robinson is a licensed physical therapy assistant, Pawl has a doctorate in physical therapy and Nelson is also a licensed physical therapy assistant.

Based in Mission Valley, Mission Healthcare offers services in San Diego and Riverside and is extending its reach to San Bernardino. In San Diego County, they’ll accept patients throughout the region, even in outlying areas such as Alpine, Boulevard and Julian. With a license that allows them to attend to patients in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and Imperial counties as well, the four plan to expand their territory.

Near-term growth that has already been realized is a broadening of services from offering Home Care, involving assistance with daily living activities and running errands, to offering Home Health services, involving intermittent care provided by nurses, therapists and social workers as follow-up to surgery or discharge from a skilled nursing facility. Now the goal is to provide a continuum of care by offering Hospice services as soon as state certification is granted, which Robinson said is expected before the end of August.

Although Mission Healthcare’s progress has not been without sacrifice — the co-founders had to make do without salaries for the first six months they were in business and a heavy price was paid to build out their new office space — they have reason to be optimistic about their prospects going forward as home health care dovetails nicely with national trends to care for the sick and elderly at home and a growing recognition that preventative medicine is a better option than after care.


Health Care Reform Supports Trends

Kimsey said he sees health care reform as compatible with these trends and a positive move in the right direction.

“Our current health care system is failing because the cost of providing care in the system, in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, is antiquated and too expensive,” he said. “We as a society cannot support that. The U.S. is the most successful country in the world in terms of economics. We have to rethink how we spend those dollars. Everybody should have health care coverage. What upsets people is the additional costs to the system that already can’t support itself.”

One solution to soaring health care costs is home health care. Kimsey said the cost of four hours of care in a hospital is equivalent to the expense of 60 days of care in the home.

“This delivery system will fix our health care system,” he said. “It will reduce health care expenditures to the point we can sustain them as a society.”

Tied in with home health care services are mobile physician groups that provide such services as EKGs, X-rays and lab draws in the home.

Sharon Brands, a registered nurse who is CEO and COO of Mobile Physician Services in La Mesa, has been working with Mission Healthcare since its inception. Brands said the two companies often refer patients to each other depending on the services that are needed. Brands said Mobile Physician Services can be a more comforting alternative to the emergency room, especially as health care reforms are expected to lead to longer wait times in the ER.

“People always do better in their home environment. They have their own place, their own things,” said Brands, who adds Mobile Physician Services can treat common ailments like colds, urinary tract infections and bronchial infections in the clients’ own home.

“You used to go to the hospital for everything and now it’s really become an acute setting for acute care. If at all possible if a patient can remain at home, it’s much less costly to treat the patient in their own home.”

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