Valdosta Daily Times

September 30, 2012

Economic Health

Businesses banking on health care

Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA —  While the economy lost 7.5 million positions during the 18-month recession, the health-care industry added doctors, nurses, and other hospital personnel, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Together with the social-assistance category, which includes day-care workers, career counselors and home-care organizations, the sector will add more than 5.6 million employees and will be the biggest job gainer by 2020, according to projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By comparison, manufacturing is forecast to lose 73,000 jobs by then.

For these reasons and others, brother and sister-in-law duo Tom Dombrowski and Kate Jones opened a CareMinders Home Care Center in Alpharetta.

“CareMinders is located in 15 states across the country and more than 50 opened right now,” said Jones.

CareMinders is a franchise business that offers companionship, skilled care and related home support services and assistance to all ages of handicapped, convalescing and dependent individuals in their own homes, and when permitted, in nursing homes, hospitals, assisted-care facilities and other medical settings.

“Everyone wants to stay home. Nobody wants to be put in a place,” said Jones.

While Jones and Dombrowski don’t have a franchise located in Valdosta, they are part of a company that just recently announced an aggressive growth strategy for Valdosta.

“We have a potential of 28 agencies we can sell in South Georgia and North Florida,” said Jones.

As the brand grows in Valdosta with potential, qualified franchisees, Jones and Dombrowski project creating job opportunities for hundreds of care-giving professionals, nurses and those interested in joining one of the economy’s strongest sectors.

“If you look at what’s happening in the national economy, good health care is important,” said Jones.

For the past four years, a topic of discussion throughout the U.S. has been health care.

“The government is looking for less expensive ways to give, quality health care for less money,” said Jones.

With all things in government and in business, the bottom line is always dollars and cents. While this is true for the business of health care as well, the focus is also on people. The goal is to keep people out of the hospital to cut down cost and improve the quality of life for their patients.

This is where CareMinder’s comes in. It also strives to keep customers out of the hospital and in their homes. “I think CareMinder’s becomes a tremendous partner to the health-care industry down there,” said Jones.

In Valdosta, health-care has been a huge topic of discussion, especially with the approval to build the new health science building at Valdosta State University that will bring more jobs, more students and more revenue to the growing city.

It is the new health-science program, the nursing program at VSU and health-care related programs at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College and Georgia Military College that make Valdosta the perfect place for a division of the health-care business to prosper.

“We feel like Valdosta is a tremendous market to grow,” said Jones.

As the director of the Labor Studies Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research David Card told Bloomberg, openings in health care are broadly distributed geographically, even in economically distressed small towns. For example, during the recession, health care added almost half a million positions, while construction shed 1.1 million workers.

“Health care is one of the only industries that’s been able to sustain itself,” said Jones.  Aside from being virtually recession proof, the health-care industry is also the fastest growing franchise in the country.

Jones said our senior-citizen population is standing on the precipice of going into a long-care facility.

By 2050 alone, there will be almost 87 million Americans that will be over the age of 65 which only further demonstrates the created demand for doctors, nurses and home health-care aides such as those provided by CareMinders.

Aside from the statistics, Jones and Dombrowski feel that Valdosta and the rest of South Georgia and North Florida provide a terrific environment for a home health-care business.

“It’s such a great family community,” said Dombrowski.