A provider's story of redemption

Monday, December 13, 2010

LEBANON, Ore. – Believe it or not, Anne Turner’s multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis turned her life around.

Before being diagnosed in April, Turner had been suffering from the symptoms of MS for about two years. During that time, she was often bed-ridden from migraines and leg paralysis, and was forced to give up her stake in a sleep company. Now she’s on Copaxone, a drug that helps reduce the symptoms of MS, and uses a cane or scooter when her legs are tired.

“When we found out it was MS, my father called me and said, ‘Anne, would you like to open another company?’” Turner said. “Because he knew that business drove me. My father, who was a logger and owned a sawmill, said, ‘What about those wheelchair thingies?’ and I said, ‘I’d love to do that.’ And it basically got me out of bed.”

Turner opened A Turning Leaf, a 3,500-square-foot, full-line home medical equipment store in Lebanon, in September. She opened another store in Salem, in November.

As someone who needs home medical equipment, Turner says, she’s well-positioned to know what her customers need physically (equipment) and mentally (inspiration).

“It’s OK to use one of these devices and be in your early 40s and still look good and still work and still be out there in the community and not lose hope and go on with your life,” said Turner, a married mother of six. “It’s been a miracle to be able to help people like this.”

Business has been brisk since A Turning Leaf opened its doors. There isn’t much in the form of competition—there are no providers who do power mobility, for example, within a 45-minute radius. So within a few weeks, A Turning Leaf was already working with a hospital in Corvallis and servicing patients with Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“There was another provider here in town, but they closed, so our business has boomed overnight,” said Misty Easter, the DME coordinator at A Turning Leaf, whose husband, Jake, also works for the company. “We’ve had some big shoes to fill, but the response has been fantastic.”

Turner’s desire to help, however, goes beyond her patients to her community at large. In December, she was selling $5 lottery tickets for a chance to win a lift chair, with proceeds earmarked for the Oregon chapter of the National MS Society. She also wants A Turning Leaf to be there for her employees.

“We have 10 employees and they and their families all have health insurance,” she said. “That was one of our goals—to take care of the families in these hard, recessionary times. I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to do so far.”