‘Our days as HME providers are behind us’

Monday, March 31, 2008

YOUNGSVILLE, La. – In 2004, Brett McElwee and Dan Fusilier, the former owners of Evangeline Medical, added nurse staffing to their business model to dull the edge of reimbursement cuts. Fast forward four years and McElwee and Fusilier, both registered nurses (RNs), have sold Evangeline Medical to focus on franchising their nurse-staffing agency, First Choice Medical Staffing, to
HMEs nationwide.
“We first opened our nurse-staffing agency to offset revenue losses, but it grew at such a tremendous rate that we decided to devote all of our time to medical staffing,” McElwee said. “Our days as HME providers are long behind us.”
Currently, First Choice Medical works with 70 nursing homes, hospitals and other healthcare facilities from three

locations in Louisiana and one location in Florida. Its 650 full-time and part-time nurses work 70 shifts per day.
McElwee and Fusilier call nurse staffing the “perfect add-on” for HME.
“We were already marketing HME in facilities that use supplemental nurse staffing, like nursing homes, so we just started co-marketing,” McElwee said. “We already had three-quarters of everything we needed in place to get started, including the space and the clerical personnel to take calls.”

McElwee said there’s “huge potential” for nurse staffing agencies due to a growing elderly population and a U.S. nursing shortage. The country’s shortage of RNs will increase to 340,000 by 2020, according to the January/February 2007 issue of Health Affairs.
Nurse staffing agencies are more likely to snag the few RNs out there by offering them better benefits, McElwee said.
“We offer them enhanced pay—sometimes same-day pay—and better flexibility,” he said. “Other healthcare facilities can’t offer them that.”
McElwee and Fusilier have enjoyed not having to worry about what Medicare and Medicaid plan to cook up next.
“It’s great,” Fusilier said. “You don’t have to worry about reimbursement or the guidelines changing.” HME