HME Excellence Awards: Health Complex makes excellence simple

Monday, May 24, 2010

In 1984, Health Complex was nothing more than a section in a neighborhood pharmacy. More than a quarter century later, it is a $7.5 million healthcare organization with 64 employees, four locations and an HME Excellence Award for second runner-up in the respiratory category.

Vice President Jack Hogan was "the one-man show" that pulled the strings necessary to grow the durable medical equipment aisle into a full-fledged respiratory operation.

"I knew if we were to grow and be successful, we needed to get into the respiratory business," he said. "So we moved into a space adjacent to the pharmacy, hired a respiratory therapist and started hiring salespeople. Before long, we had a staff."

Over the past 15 years, Health Complex has focused on strengthening its core competencies, including sleep medicine, which it started in 2000. Sleep now represents the majority of its respiratory business, which is 90% of the company's overall business mix. Because pharmacy is still part of the corporate identity, the company also provides respiratory medications.

Excellence judges cited Health Complex for being "superior" in several areas, such as strong financials, patient satisfaction and community involvement. But it is the company's performance in grassroots industry affairs that made the strongest impression with judges.

"By making sure the rest of the industry stays strong, they are a top-notch company," one judge said.

Hogan serves as vice president of the New England Medical Equipment Dealers association (NEMED). His dedication stems from a sense of responsibility for improving the HME industry's position in the healthcare provider community.

"I have watched some very talented people at the board level work tirelessly to make NEMED what it is," Hogan said. "We have to work collectively to be successful--it doesn't happen by accident."

As is the case with all HME Excellence winners, Health Complex has a core of dedicated staff members--with several charting 15 or 20 years at the company.

"A lot of companies give credit to their staffs, but ours is a true asset for us," Hogan said, "These are people who are committed to patient care, have pride in what they do and are dedicated to serving the community."

To foster "competition" between employees, Hogan reads survey comments aloud at meetings that mention specific people by name. It's an effective motivation tool, he said, because "people like hearing their names mentioned."

Economic and regulatory pressures have taken a financial toll across the HME industry and Health Complex is not immune. Still, management has deployed tactics to help the company stay fiscally strong.

"It's about understanding the efficiencies we have to create and increase our productivity," Hogan said. "There's a balance there--not just  doing more with less, but continuing what we do well in a changing landscape. Without good financials, we can't provide the care our patients have come to expect."

Community service is second nature for the Health Complex organization, Hogan says, "whether it's helping a senior citizen run errands, collecting for soldiers overseas or launching a statewide food drive." Every fall the company helps with a "back to school" initiative to provide backpacks and school supplies to 30 or 40 underprivileged children. It conducts a similar event at Christmas to provide toys for poor children.

"Whatever the cause, we rally the troops to get involved," he said. "When you look at it, this is something that is simple to do."


Headquarters: Waterbury, Conn.

Category: Second runner-up, Respiratory

Employees: 64

Revenues: $7.6 million

Professional affiliations: MED, AAHomecare, NEMED, Connecticut Society for Respiratory Care

Community outreach: "Back to School" and "Christmas Toy" drives for underprivileged children, food bank donations, basketball hoop donation to local school.