How A Familiar Face began by Donna Noel Ventura R.N./CEO
A Familiar Face Home Health Services Inc. was founded in 1994 and was originally called Aging Gracefully with Familiar Faces Home Health Services Inc. The name was shortened as we found it to be a mouthful to say especially when answering the phone and people began to call us A Familiar Face.
I have 30 years experience in all aspects of nursing including home health. I have helped many physicians’ practices grow in Sarasota. While working in family practices, walk-in emergency centers and in home health agencies, I have learned how to manage with compassion and empathy providing patients with quality care and the individual attention they deserve.
In 1992, I was invited to go to Orlando to interview with the owner of a large home health agency. By the end of my interview I was offered five different positions and finally they gave me my own office in Sarasota as Regional Administrator. I worked for this company for almost two years. I was chosen employee of the year, presented with a plaque and a bonus for my outstanding work. I was called to Orlando for a Friday management meeting. At the end of my meeting the owner handed me a non-compete contract. They said it was no big deal. Well I studied it and found I could not sign it. I was a single Mom and if I signed it and they let me go for any reason, I would have to move 70 miles away to work as a nurse in any field. On Monday I called and explained to the owner that I could not sign that contract, but I would continue doing a great job for the company. By 10:00 am the owner showed up at my Sarasota office and told me," we're going out for lunch". The next twenty minutes was spent trying to convince me to sign. I lost my appetite and my job; they fired me on the spot and took my keys in the parking lot. They would not even let me clean out my personal things like my daughter's pictures etc.
Well, I was devastated and so were my coworkers. That evening some of my staff got together to talk about what happened. We decided if I could be as successful as I was for them, I could do it for myself. I, of course wanted to have everything in my company that was missing in all the other ones in Sarasota. I wanted to give the patients a chance to age gracefully with the same familiar faces at home where they are the happiest.
I applied for a minority business owner status from the state of Florida as a woman. This opened up the opportunity to get a minority loan from the bank. I wrote the most important business plan of my life. I landed a sixty thousand dollar loan with a lien on my house and some help from friends to start my agency. I have to say it was an experience of a lifetime. I created with the help of my staff, all the policies, manuals and state regulations we needed to follow. We passed our first survey to get our state license. I was the administrator, aide, nurse and the trainer, since there wasn't a job I hadn't done. My staff knew I would never ask them to do something I had not done.
I established a rapport with the area hospitals and doctors. Every patient, no matter what the diagnosis, was treated like family. This quality of care and compassion helped me to receive the Woman of Impact award from the city of Sarasota twice for health care. These were nominated by patients and families for the care our team gave them during their time of need.
Click on each one to view details.
Unlike most of the owners of home health agencies, I am very involved with my clients. I still practice as a nurse and if someone needs a shower, I am there. I personally chose my staff and they practice nursing just like me. We do not just treat the disease or injury when we assess our clients. We look at the entire picture. How are they living? What kind of care will give quality to the client and family during this time of need?
We have been serving our local communities for 20 years. This is our 19th year of certified Medicare service. It took five years and our minority status to achieve credentialing for Blue Cross Blue Shield in 2003. We have added credentialing for many other managed care companies as health care needs started changing. We are now credentialed with Care Centric, EMP, Univida, Allmed, United Heath Care, Freedom, Walgreens, Infusion, and many more. We have expanded to Manatee County adding Lakewood Ranch, Manatee Memorial and Blake to the area hospitals with Sarasota Memorial and Doctors hospital all in our backyard. We appreciate the physicians' confidence in us and look forward to continually serving them all. We are proud to post our Outcome Reports. These show our standings in the country for quality care from a national case sampling and our cases. We feel that our company has kept the patient # 1.
Our Team is one of the finest. I am very proud of our creation! This story will go on and my dreams will be achieved and most of all I will be remembered for my persistence and quality home health services.