Sandra Shepherd didn’t set out to own a Home Health agency. But “now I feel like it is where I’ve been headed all my life,” she shared. She and her husband owned a construction company when he got cancer. This was her first experience at home health. She graduated from nursing school and was working in a Rehab Unit, when her teen-age son had a stroke. Driving him to appointments in Albuquerque and Farmington provided first-hand experience in what families are managing. Then, her son suggested she start a home health agency.
Sandra clearly understood what a big need there is in the community for home health assistance. Luckily, her daughter-in-law knew Joe Keck, former Executive Director of the SBDC.
Years of experience in the construction industry provided valuable business expertise, but “health care is a very complex and highly regulated industry. There are so many evaluations and audits and I had to learn to do medical billing.”
Joe Keck helped her write her business plan which included an independent analysis of the industry, financial projections and a Profit and Loss statement. They also researched zoning, insurance and the permits required for starting a home health business.
The business plan, “a three-inch binder Joe helped me put together,” aided in acquiring a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan to get the business started. The National Home Care Association and the Colorado Home Care Association also provided information on requirements and how to get started.
During the education and survey process, Sandra discovered the need to establish two companies- one for Non-Medical Home Health and one for Medical. The need for Non-Medical was larger, so she started that division first. Given’ Home Health received its license in April of 2014. While she and her daughter Heidi were discussing “Best Practices for Business” and acknowledging that they would provide excellent customer care, Heidi said, “Well that’s a given’” and the business got its name!
The division of the business providing medically assisted care now employs two Registered Nurses, a Physical Therapist and a Social Worker. Sandra has contracted with a Denver firm to provide “teletherapy” via Skype and Face Time with clients in Cortez. The virtual services include Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language therapy and Pathology.
Her business will be growing now that she recently received her license to accept Medicaid and Medicare payments through the Community Health Accreditation Program. “None of this would have happened without the help of Joe Keck. He was so friendly, knowledgeable and willing to help. Anything I needed – he was there. He was very accommodating and easy to work with.”
“I wouldn’t have made it without the help of my kids,” Sandra explains. One daughter helped to plaster and sheet-rock the garage, converting it to an office. Another daughter organized the procedural policies, and her son set up the website.
“They all helped me help the community. I now employ 12 people who care for 23 people in our community, “she says proudly.