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Careshop cooperative caters to consumers

Careshop cooperative caters to consumers ‘Everything (used to be) driven by the referral source. Now, patients are making their own health care decisions’

SEATTLE – With 20 years of experience in the HME industry, provider Julie Blaakman is adept at shifting gears, but the COVID-19 pandemic has given her the courage to bring her passions for entrepreneurship, HME and wellness together under one roof – literally. 

Earlier this year, Blaakman, owner of The Careshop, a provider of DME, CPAP devices, women’s health products and scrubs, leased an 8,600-square-foot, two-story building to house the Careshop Health & Wellness Cooperative, where she plans to bring together a variety of health care related businesses, such as massage therapy for pregnant women and financial support services for cancer patients. 

“About 10 years ago, I began dreaming up the idea, ‘Why can’t we have it all under one roof?’” she said. “People want it to be easy. Health care is complicated. This is an easy place to come and have a variety of modalities where you can say, ‘I need that and that and that.’” 

Careshop Health & Wellness Cooperative will include 1,600 square feet of retail space for a second location for The Careshop, which launched in 2002 as a provider of pediatric nebulizers. 

The cooperative will operate as a customized membership model, where businesses will pay monthly fees to cover everything from physical space and utilities and to access shared common areas like a kitchen. Blaakman is currently sorting through proposals from nearly a dozen applicants, with an eye toward offering a diverse mix of products and services. 

“Right now, it’s all about putting together a team to service whoever walks in the door,” she said. 

With only a one-year commitment and flexible space options, the cooperative offers the perfect set-up for small businesses – and allows Blaakman to tap into her interest in entrepreneurship. 

“I’m bringing in resources to help small businesses, share knowledge and (encourage them) to refer to each other and help everybody grow,” she said. 

With the ongoing shift toward consumer-driven health care, broadening beyond the walls of HME feels like the right move, says Blaakman. 

“Everything (used to be) driven by the referral source,” she said. “Now, patients are making their own health care decisions. I’m creating a space that’s appealing to the consumer and based on their needs and wants when they come in to the HME (provider). It’s a different mindset and it fits nicely with our core competence. It’s what we do.”


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