The New England Medical Equipment Dealers Association (NEMED) celebrated a milestone birthday recently: 25 years of service to our members in New England. It’s quite an accomplishment. I have been the executive director for 15 years, during which time we have weathered many storms and seen many successes. Within my first five years with NEMED, we tripled our membership, tripled our budget and tripled our staff. And we’ve been rockin’ and rollin’ ever since!
I am passionate about this organization, our members and the work they do every day to change people’s lives. I consider it an honor to champion their cause for quality health care in the home and community. It’s been said that “I bleed NEMED” and I guess that’s true. But this organization has given me far more than I could ever give it. My life, both professionally and personally, has been changed forever because of NEMED. I feel I’m pursuing my life’s work rather than coming to a job every day.
So the thought of changing our name was something that we took very seriously and with great care to make sure we got it right. We had wanted to change our name for quite some time now. Twenty-five years ago, the word “dealers” was part of the vernacular for HME providers. But we don’t represent “dealers” today. We represent companies that are accredited, credentialed, licensed and take great pride in the products and services they provide to their customers to help keep them independent. And after Operation Wheeler Dealer, well, the fate of our name was sealed. NEMED was one of the last associations that hadn’t removed that reference from its name. With our 25th anniversary approaching, it was time.
An association’s name must be as relevant as the work it does. As time passes, it is important to reflect on what and who you are now compared to when you first formed. With words like “community and home-based care” becoming more commonplace, we needed a name that not only reflects who we are and what we do today, but also for the next 25 years and beyond. Our new name, the Home Medical Equipment and Services Association of New England—HOMES—does just that. “Home” is not only the first word in our name, but also our acronym. When we are speaking with policymakers, we want them to make the correlation of “home” and “medical equipment and services.”
The initial reception to the name change has been very positive. And I am very happy that I don’t have to refer to our members as “dealers” anymore!
Karyn Estrella is executive director of HOMES. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.