Tabitha Zappone loves the conveniences in Pagosa Springs and considers it a “big city with coffee shops and restaurants.” Before moving to Pagosa, she and her husband both worked in a hospital in rural Alaska, in the town of Bethel. He is an Emergency Room nurse and she is a Nurse Practitioner. The two served people from 57 villages. “They would come in on dogsleds, four wheelers or small airplanes. In the winter it would get to 60 degrees below zero and would be absolutely dangerous to go outside.”
They went to Alaska because the salaries there would help them pay off her husband’s nursing school loans quickly. But they couldn’t wait to get back to Colorado. “These winters are nothing compared to up there,” she says. Tabitha attended the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs and then lived in Durango before heading to Bethel.
They returned to Pagosa because they really like the community and her parents are there. Tabitha had worked for a small practice in Pagosa, then a clinic in Alamosa. She decided to open her own practice to “get back home and to offer additional services.” She enjoys offering specialty aesthetics and cosmetic services that provide instant gratification to her clients.
She explains, “I know medicine, but don’t know how to run a business. I’ve always worked for other Clinics and for the Pagosa Medical Center.” She was referred to the SBDC and worked with advisor Rich Lindblad, who also lives in Pagosa. They met and Tabitha shared her vision for the clinic she’d like to open. When he said, “Sure we can make that happen!” she was so relieved.
He gave her homework which was to put her ideas into a business plan using the Business Model Canvas template. After several meetings, the plan was complete and ready to present to the bank for a small business loan. “Thanks to Rich, the plan was very thorough, the process went smoothly and I got approved for the SBA loan from First Southwest Bank.” She also got a loan from the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation.
“I was so nervous and unsure if I could really create a successful business. Having Rich there for support and guidance made all the difference in the world. It might not have happened without him.”
She has been very fortunate in this educational journey. After the first location fell through, her mother suggested another location. The space had to built- out to suit her needs – an expense she thought she couldn’t afford. When she met with the owner they both realized that he had been a former patient. He offered to customize the space for her at his own expense explaining, “We miss you and we want you back here.”
Alpine Medical and Specialties officially opened their doors on March 14, 2016. She is thrilled that former clients remember her and are happy she’s back.
“Earning the trust of my patients and building a good rapport is really important to me. They become like my family.”
Her on-going relationship and the mentorship of Rich Lindblad also created a deep friendship that she values. “It’s an emotionally raw experience going out on your own and with a new baby. Having Rich to walk me through the process with reassurance was invaluable.”
Tabitha chose this photo because, “When I am not working I am outside, hiking, biking, horseback riding, skiing, you name it.”