The Pediatric Connection: Beth Bailey, Co-Founder and Co-Owner

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The Pediatric Connection, based in Richmond, Va., is an innovative company that keeps not only its patients, but also its employees at the heart of day-to-day business life.

Founded in 1998, The Pediatric Connection was developed when Beth Bailey and her co-founders, Bruce Green and Marcia Hickory, set out to create a company that would provide care specifically for children in the home by offering respiratory equipment, supplies, and private-duty nursing. Bailey had previously worked for a company that provided pediatric equipment and supplies, but found a gap in the nursing support for these patients when they returned home.

With offices throughout the state of Virginia and one office in Georgia, The Pediatric Connection’s sole focus is on caring for children with complex medical needs by providing equipment and nursing support for them in the home. The company’s respiratory therapists will meet children and their families at the hospital to train them on using respiratory or feeding equipment and will also go home with them.

“We know how to take care of little ones,” Bailey said. “Home-care companies for children are few and far between. We have the expertise to take children and their caregivers home from the hospital and make their life easier. Our clinical and support staff are driven and committed to the patients they serve.”

Services focused on children

The Pediatric Connection provides clinical respiratory therapy with evaluation, support, and teaching for children with pulmonary complications and their parents or caregivers. The company also has private-duty nurses with RNs or LPNs who work eight to 10 hours a day in homes.

In addition, the company provides support for families transitioning from the hospital to the home-care setting. Bailey said that although respiratory therapy has been the primary service offered, feeding and nutrition services are a growing sector of the business. The Pediatric Connection has a registered dietitian on staff to answer questions related to enteral nutrition and feeding pumps.

Commitment to staff and community

Providing care to medically fragile children is a difficult area of healthcare, especially home care. Adult home care is often an expected part of life, but, as Bailey said, “you expect children to live and have fun.”

Recruiting and retaining staff that live the vision and love children is a big part of The Pediatric Connection’s mission. To keep staff engaged, the owners and managers greet the staff every morning and maintain an open-door policy. Bailey said she finds it important to “celebrate everything,” from holidays to awards.

The Pediatric Connection takes the staff on a one-day trip every year to reward them for their hard work and dedication. In 2011, the trip was to Washington, D.C., for the annual scavenger hunt and a river boat cruise on the Potomac River. To heighten the suspense every year, the owners never tell the staff where they are going.

“We want to keep our staff rallied around our mission,” Bailey said. “It’s not just the big gifts or trips that keep them, but they know they mean a lot to us, and we try to show that every day. Our staff loves children, and they develop close relationships to the families they serve. They have supported parents through some really bad times.”

The Pediatric Connection also plays a big part in its community by sponsoring events, feeding the homeless, and hosting its own events. Six years ago, The Pediatric Connection began participating in Make a Difference Day, a national day of helping others, sponsored by USA Weekend Magazine. This year, The Pediatric Connection chose to raise money for Child Savers, a local nonprofit.

“In previous years, we made a difference in the lives of the moms of our patients, cleaned a local elementary school and gardens, gave back to a local rehab hospital, and this year, we sponsored our first 5K run,” Bailey said. “There were 108 runners, and we raised $10,000 for Child Savers, an organization that shares a similar passion and mission for kids.

The staff recognition and community support have helped The Pediatric Connection grow its reputation locally and nationally. The company received the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce Impact Award in 2010 and was recognized in Boston, Mass., as one of the top 100 growing companies by the Inner City 100 in 2011.

Navigating care in tight times

As with all healthcare companies, particularly in home care, The Pediatric Connection has faced challenges with reduced reimbursement. Even at an early stage in the company’s history, Bailey said one of the most difficult lessons was learning to say no to some cases.

“When you have a sick child, it’s hard to say no,” she said. “But we have to in order to continue providing care to the patients we have. We assist families as much as possible in finding another way to care for their child.”

Medicaid cut already-low reimbursement rates across the board for home care in 2010. The rates for private-duty nursing have only been raised one time since 1992. Many children receiving care at The Pediatric Connection receive some Medicaid assistance, since they often cap out on their private insurance for home care. Studies show that children who go home recover faster and have a better quality of life.

“It is my fear that rates will get so low that we can’t care for these kids at home, which would hurt the child and their family,” Bailey said.

Although the challenge is great, Bailey remains optimistic and confident in both the mission and values of her company and is determined to fight for the health and well-being of the children and families they service.

-by Patricia Chaney

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