Provider: 'Buy local' applies to home care

Monday, June 30, 2008

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss.--As a cloud of ongoing reimbursement cuts lingers on the horizon, a provider who weathered a far worse storm in the form of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina is staying focused close to home.

“Buy local” is the message Patient’s Choice rolled out in its new local TV commercials, said Frank Whitam, vice president.

“We’re telling people it’s in their best interest to spend their healthcare dollars locally, not with nationals,” he said. “It’s critically important in a community that is trying to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Katrina.”

Patient’s Choice has one location, compared to the three it had prior to Katrina, and Whitam estimates business is about 40% of what it was before the storm hit.

“The storm took away in 12 hours what it took a generation to build,” he said.

The three commercials target consumers of seat lift chairs, diabetic supplies and shoes.

“I think there’s a significant need for seat lift chairs that are competitively priced,” he said. “I can offer a basic chair for $399-$100 less than Wal-Mart.”

Whitam is especially interested in lessening his dependence on Medicare, which comprises 65% of his business.

“The more cash sales we do, the more insulated we become from any of these uncertain changes on the horizon,” he said.

The 10-year-old company’s motto has been “Patient’s Choice, your local choice” since Jody Compretta founded the company. Compretta died in February after falling from a Mardi Gras parade float.

In Katrina’s aftermath, Compretta continued serving patients, despite a flooded store, looting and significant damage to his own home.

“It was amazing to watch him service his patients from the parking lot of his store,” said Carolyn Cole, vice president, corporate communications for The VGM Group, who visited Patient’s Choice in Katrina’s aftermath.