Remembering Mark Sheehan. This guy's got some spunk, I said to myself. I like it.

 - 
04/08/2010

Earlier this week, I received and email from Karyn Estrella, the executive director of the New England Medical Equipment Dealers (NEMED) association.

Karyn started by saying: Hi Mike, I thought you might want to know about Mark.

From there followed an email she had sent out to NEMED members.

It is with sadness that we inform our members that long-time NEMED member and former NEMED board member, Mark Sheehan (Cape Medical Supply, MA) passed away last Friday after a long battle with a rare form of Squamous cell cancer.

After reading Karyn's email, I sat and thought about Mark for a few minutes. Two HME News stories came to mind.

The first ran in June 2002. Mark was going toe-to-toe with Massachusetts Medicaid, which claimed his company, Cape Medical Supply, had to fork over $247,000 in overpayments. Mark called the claim crazy and said that the state auditors working on the case could "drop dead."

This guy's got some spunk, I said to myself. I like it.

"We've been in business 25 years, but I've never seen anything quite as audacious as this," Mark continued. "I just looked at it as if these people were from a different planet and said, 'We'll fight them."'

Mark ultimately settled with the state for $14,220, but not before he spent $80,000 fighting the overpayment charge.

"It was worth every penny," he said. "I wouldn't have been able to sleep at night if I'd walked away. They were blatantly wrong."

Mark did not back down from a fight.

The second story ran about a year later. It was during the HME M&A craze that raged during the first half of the last decade, Mark was one of a number of providers who said they had no plans to sell their companies.

"I have three kids and one of them works here now," he told me in mid 2003. "We could be a mom-and-pop business forever."

For him to sell, Mark said, the offer would have to be big -- bigger, he suspected, than anyone would be willing to pay. His 26-year-old business meant more to him and his family, in terms of being able to live a certain lifestyle, than it did to potential buyers.

That was the Mark I came to know while working at HME News. If he believed in something, he'd fight for it.  He was a straight shooter and spoke his mind. It was important to him that people and institutions play fair and square. He could come off as gruff, but he also had a heart of gold. He ran a successful business and enjoyed his family.

I'm glad I got to know him a little bit, and I wish his family and friends my warmest condolences.

--    Mike Moran