Natural Healthcare Center opened its doors in July of 2003. All this month, we’re celebrating our 15th anniversary by looking at our humble beginnings, how Natural Healthcare Center has evolved, and what lies ahead. We couldn’t be more thankful for our patients, friends and family who help us make Natural Healthcare Center such a special place.
In part 1 of this post, I discussed the frustration I encountered in trying to partner with an existing practice and then trying to find a facility to purchase. Looking back, I know God wanted me to be at Natural Healthcare Center. He wanted me in this building, with this kind of practice, working with this incredible team, serving this wonderful community.
As I said at the end of the first post, people tend to resist change, and the previous practice had been doing things a certain way for 25 years. After opening Natural Healthcare Center, I implemented changes gradually, whether it was adding a new service or installing hardwood floors.
Of course, the first six months were spent building relationships with patients. I knew that if they didn’t respond positively to me in the first one or two visits, they wouldn’t be back. I worked my tail off to make sure my patients knew they were in good hands.
From day one, I began developing our Community Relations program. It took 12 months of writing and fine tuning before I was satisfied with my presentations and scheduled my first speaking engagement. During those early years, I was on the road doing 40-50 seminars a year.
What has driven me since I first opened the doors of Natural Healthcare Center, and what continues to drive my team and me today, are our core values. Be passionate about what you do, do it with a high level of consistency, and provide outstanding customer service.
I wanted my patients to have a genuine experience. Nothing about Natural Healthcare Center would be canned or scripted. I wanted to build a culture of authenticity that would grow organically as we expanded from a staff of one to 20 people who fully embraced the mission of our practice.
More than the quality of service and compassion you receive from staff, this experience is also affected by how your surroundings make you feel. I continue to work with a designer on lighting, colors, furniture and other design elements to make patients feel comfortable and welcome.
Another core value that drove me in those early days was, if the patient needs it, you give it them. I didn’t hold back therapies from patients even when I knew the insurance companies wouldn’t pay me for them.
Honestly, I think this is the first time I’ve said that out loud. But it’s not that hard to understand.
Not every service we offered was reimbursable by insurance companies. My philosophy was and continues to be that you don’t hold back a service the patient needs because you don’t get paid for it.
This required more staffing and more open hours at the center, which leads me to the third core value of accessibility. Disjointed doctor office hours drive me crazy as a patient, so why would I subject my patients to the same craziness?
The practice I purchased was open three days a week. I set hours of 8 am – 7 pm, six days a week. During this time, I didn’t have an assistant. It was me by myself. 60-hour weeks weren’t normal. They were the minimum. During the first seven years, I think I took one full-week vacation.
Each day, I would tap on the door, say a prayer, and thank God for the opportunity he was giving me to pursue my dream. I still do that to this day.
“Labor of love” is a bit of an overused cliché, but it definitely applies here. I thank my father, whose work ethic and family values were instilled in me at a young age. I thank my mother for her unconditional love and gentle support. And, of course, I thank my wife, Stacy, who has always been my only true partner in life and was a wonderful mother to five children under 10 years old during those early years. Her faith in me has never wavered.
The long hours and core values helped me earn the confidence of my patients and attract top-notch talent to the Natural Healthcare Center team. As a result, we’ve been able to do things that even I never dreamed of. In the third and final installment of this series, I’ll discuss what lies ahead for Natural Healthcare Center.